While the Swope Park Rangers were officially introduced as Sporting Kansas City’s USL team on October 22, 2015, the name itself has in fact circulated for the better part of a decade. It was former Kansas City Wizards account executive Darren Gertsen who first coined the name in 2008, and we caught up with Darren via email ahead of the Rangers’ first-ever game at Swope Soccer Village on Wednesday, April 27.
What was your inspiration for the Swope Park Rangers team name?
“The name actually came out over lunch with several current/former Kansas City Wizards employees. There was talk about a possible rebrand with the Wizards and over lunch we were talking about all kinds of names and possibilities. Some ideas I remember were outlandish and others could have made sense (AFC KC, KC United, Inter KC, just to name a few). There was debate about having a unique name or if it should have some "European" inspiration. Thinking of names of European teams, Queens Park Rangers popped up and I tossed out the idea of Swope Park Rangers.”
Did it catch on quickly? When did fans start using it?
“I'm not really sure how long it took to catch on but I remember that one of the soccer blogs made reference to it and that was where I can first remember seeing it referenced outside of our office.”
What did it mean to you to hear that Sporting Club was going to use the name for its USL team?
“I was pretty shocked at first, I called a former co-worker and talked about how crazy it was that something that started off as just generating random names could have evolved into an actual team name and one that had backing from supporters.”
Do you feel a sense of pride and connection with the fans of Sporting KC and now the Swope Park Rangers for being the one to coin the name?
“I absolutely do! I've been a fan of Sporting KC and the Wizards since I first moved to Kansas City in 2008. Sporting KC gave me my first opportunity out of college and I was moving to a new city that I’d never been before. Over the past few years this city has become my home and a place I hold dear to me. The sport of soccer has grown exponentially in this town over the past few years and I am honored that there is a team that I can support which has personal meaning and a connection with the fans.”
The team has done well so far in its existence, does it feel extra special to see the early success of the team?
“I know it’s early on, but I really do love that they're out of the gates well. Like any SKC/SPR fan I'm expecting big things. Is it too much to ask for MLS and USL titles?”
The Rangers will host Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 on Wednesday, April 27 in the club's first of 13 home games to be held at Swope Soccer Village this season. Gameday festivities were unveiled last week while tickets, starting as low as $12, are still available via the club's Ticketmaster page, by calling 888-4KC-GOAL or at the Swope Soccer Village box office.