(WICHITA, KS) - The FC Wichita Women are pleased to announce that their reserve team ("FC Wichita II"), formerly of the United Women's Soccer League 2 (UWS2"), will see promotion to the 1st division alongside the FC Wichita's Women's first team.
FC Wichita II is comprised as a U-17 team utilizing under the age of 17 youth players who stand out in the Elite Club's National League regional platform.
Previously the U-17's competed in the UWS2, turning heads and gaining notoriety for their quality/style of play. That was the determining factor for the new division alignment, says UWS League Commissioner Joe Ferrara.
"Last season the FC Wichita II competed well enough to catch the attention of many 1st division clubs and as a result the league itself," said Ferrara. "That same group went on to play in a handful of NCAA and NJCAA college preseason games afterwards as well. We believe the UWS is a pathway that exists to elevate opportunities for our players, clubs and officials alike. This advancement is a direct reflection of those core values. We've been excited to witness the player growth in Wichita and we are happy to see them reach the ability to field two very talented teams."
FC Wichita's Women's side was formed in 2016 as a member of the Womens Premier Soccer League ("WPSL"), before moving operations to the United Women's Soccer League in 2020, then eventually adding the reserves in 2022.
Although a young organization, the club has seen tremendous results when it comes to helping players prepare for the next level. Already 3 former players have been professionally drafted in the National Women's Soccer League ("NWSL"), one of the top Women's leagues in the world.
"Helping players use a platform to prepare to reach their goals is an amazing thing," says FC Wichita CEO Blake Shumaker. "Our goals have always been to cast a wide net around the idea that local girls can become high level student athletes. The idea that players can use our summer programming to both get to college or the professional game has become very real. I suppose when you do things for the right reason good things happen as a result."
Good things have happened indeed. FC Wichita has placed local players into it's Women's team from colleges all over the country and has alumni at major universities such as Arkansas, Central Arkansas, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri State, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and UMKC to name a few.
"This is uncharted territory for Wichita soccer," said Shumaker. "The great thing about this project is that we truly don't care if the reserve group wins or not. It's a genuine nod to, and act of loyalty to, those top pre-collegiate players in Wichita who've earned this opportunity. Now they can cut their teeth and be seen on a National stage during the summer months without the fear of mistakes damaging their playing time. In the early years this same opportunity was offered to a few standout high school age players such as Brooklyn Entz and Peyton Vincze. I would say those games under head coach Sammy Lane helped the maturation process for them, so now we look to improve a much larger number of young players."
Entz, a graduate of Newton High School played for FC Wichita's Women's team prior to attending Kansas State University. She would eventually captain the Wildcats and be drafted into the NWSL's KC Current, before signing a professional contract in Iceland.
Vincze is now set to graduate from Oklahoma State University this spring and spent her youth years living near the Wichita area while competing in the Wales National Team U-17's, U-19's, and eventually 1st team camp. It wasn't uncommon for Peyton to train with the FC Wichita boys teams while female players were in high school season. Vincze left her biggest mark on Wichita soccer while playing in the Women's first team at just 16 and 17 years old.
FC Wichita plans to begin announcing it's player selections for both teams in April ahead of a June 2023 season openers.