The Kaw Valley FC Cranes returned to Rock Chalk Park for the 2021 USL League Two season after a 22-month hiatus. While the roster was filled with an abundance of extremely talented players from across the US and World, injuries ultimately crippled the Crane’s season and KVFC finished their campaign with a record of 6-7 under the new leadership of Coach Alex Nichols. “Although we did not reach the goals and/or achieve the results we wanted on the pitch this past season, the club enjoyed numerous successes both on and off the field that we can all be extremely proud of,” said KVFC President and General Manager, Marcus Dudley.
“One of the primary objectives of the 2021 season for KVFC was for the club to build and develop new and deeper relationships with a wide variety of non-profit organizations throughout the Lawrence community,” said Jackie Hitt, who served as the Community and Corporate Partnership Intern during the 2021 season. “This past season we had the opportunity to partner and work closely with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Douglas County (BBBS), Let’s Talk, the Lawrence Humane Society, Sporting Kaw Valley, and the Lawrence Adult Soccer League. Through these collaborative initiatives we were able to use soccer as a way to connect, support, and drive awareness to a variety of amazing causes and nonprofit organizations in our community” said Hitt.
This past season KVFC also hosted its first “Pride Night & Soccer for All” event to celebrate Pride Month and give those of the LGBTQ+ community an exciting and safe space to enjoy the sport of soccer. During this event, the club also announced the addition of a new USL Women’s pre-professional soccer team that will begin play in Lawrence in the Summer of 2022. “The primary goal of the women's team and USL W League will be to use women’s soccer as a force for societal good by creating a national platform to increase opportunity, gender equity, and career development for women in sport“ said Paige Thompson, Operations Manager for Kaw Valley FC. “As a former collegiate soccer player myself, I’m extremely excited and proud to help bring competitive women’s soccer to the Lawrence community in the summer months. Not only will this team and league provide younger female athletes fantastic role models on the pitch but we are equally excited to showcase what women can accomplish professionally off the pitch once their playing careers are over” said Thompson.
Operationally, Kaw Valley FC’s success was once again driven by their robust and ever growing student internship program. This past season, KVFC relied heavily on the knowledge and dedication of 7 full-time student interns who were also working towards their own personal and professional goals of obtaining real life experience in the field of sport. In addition to the club’s largest full time intern class in club history, KVFC also benefited greatly from the assistance of another 12 sport management students who eagerly volunteered to help staff KVFC special events and home matches this past season. This year the KVFC intern class consisted of graduate, undergraduate, and high school students from around the region. “While we have had some amazing student intern groups in the past, this past season we hosted student interns from KU, Baker U, UMKC, Central Missouri,and Free State High School. It was an amazing group of extremely dedicated and talented men and women and our organization benefited greatly from their collective knowledge and passion this past season” said Dudley.
As the 2021 Kaw Valley FC season concludes, we would like to thank all of the individuals and organizations that have continued to support the team and club over the last 22 months. Our success would not be possible without our amazing fans and the generous support of organizations like LMH Health, OrthoKansas, Sporting Kansas City, The University of Kansas, Adidas, SoccerMaster, Best Western Plus, City Rent a Truck, The UPS Store, the Lawrence Beer Co, and Oread Studios. Next year, we remain excited to launch our new women’s team and we will continue to aspire to reach new heights both on and off the pitch.
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