As far as sports entertainment, Fort Wayne has a big reputation. People from all over the area come to Parkview Field and the Allen County Memorial Coliseum to support the TinCaps and the Komets.
In recent years, Fort Wayne soccer fans were also given their own local teams to support– the Fort Wayne Football Club (FC)
and the 1927SC
Both teams will take the field on May 13 for their home openers and as newer teams, they’re hoping to make a lasting impression on the city.
The 1927SC is new to the competitive soccer atmosphere, but the organization behind them, from which their name comes, has a long history in Fort Wayne.
A group of soccer players from Germany started the Fort Wayne Sport Club
in 1927, with a mission to promote soccer and German heritage. A couple of years later, the Club purchased land off of Admore Avenue, where they still play today. There you’ll find eight soccer fields and a clubhouse for members.
The Fort Wayne Sport Club hosts various levels of soccer, from four-year-old kids to adults. The Sport Club has competitive youth travel teams in the Indiana Soccer League (ISL) and Regional League (GLC), which play in tournaments in Indiana, across the Midwest and nationally. They offer a variety of recreational teams for adults.
They also have a competitive adult team known as 1927SC. The team isn’t brand new. In fact, they’ve dabbled in competitive leagues since 2011, but when the league they were in ceased to exist, it took some time for the team to step back into a competitive league. For years, the team primarily played in the local men’s league and played three or four games every year against teams in the fourth division from USL2, National Premier Soccer League, and MWPL.
But last year the team rejoined the highly competitive leagues and in their first year in the Ohio Valley Premier League, they won.
Now in their second year, the team has moved to the Midwest Premier League, to seek out what they hope is a more challenging league.
“The team has a big future,” says Team Captain Jose Rodriguez. “It’s off to a really good start because the team started off as a Sunday league team– competitive and successful in the area, but I think it’s meant for more than that and that’s what Dave’s been pioneering for us.”
Players' ages range from 18 to 30. Some players are fresh out of high school or in college, some are alumni of local college teams, and some are just passionate about the sport.
“We have a number of high-quality players here that received some pretty good accolades out there,” says Dave Bennett, General Manager for 1927SC.
In addition to a wide age range, Bennett says the team has members from all over the world.
Romain Lopez, who’s from France, will tell you he’s been playing soccer since he could walk. He moved to Fort Wayne to study at Purdue Fort Wayne, where he also played collegiate soccer. After graduating, Lopez decided to stay in Fort Wayne. He’s been playing soccer with the Club for three years now, and he says it’s created the perfect opportunity to continue playing the sport he loves.
“It’s the perfect environment to play competitive soccer in town,” he says. “There is not a lot of places where we can do that. Fort Wayne Sport Club provides that for us.”
The 1927SC has higher ambitions than playing competitively and winning league championships. They’re attempting to lay the groundwork for a bigger goal– making a bigger soccer community in Fort Wayne.
“Part of the mission of this team is to give the younger players a chance to play with and against older players at a high level during the summer to help improve themselves,” says Bennett.
Having competitive soccer teams allows players to get more experience, it allows fans to experience their favorite sport without having to travel far, and it shows younger players that they can plan soccer at a high level in Fort Wayne.
“It’s huge for kids to come out and watch these guys who are not much older than they are, and know that there’s a place to play and they can be better than they currently are,” says Bennett.
Jose Rodriguez, who has been playing with 1927SC since 2017, says he hopes anyone who is interested in soccer will come check out the team, and explore how they can get involved and have an impact.
1927SC Team Caption Jose Rodriguez.
“I’m passionate about the sport, especially with a team like Sport Club, where we’re involved in growing a more competitive level soccer and keeping good talent in Fort Wayne,” he says,
He grew up in Warsaw, Ind., and like Lopez, he also played collegiate soccer at Purdue Fort Wayne.
As someone who grew up in Northeast Indiana, Rodriguez says he wishes that a program like this had existed when he was younger. Between the Fort Wayne Sport Club and the Fort Wayne Football Club, which was founded in 2018 and plays a division above 1927SC, younger soccer players now have local teams to look up to.
“I think our presence creates an opportunity for kids to watch our team or Fort Wayne Football Club play at such a young age, and it allows them to build a different type of approach and outlook for the sport and build a passion early on for it,” says Rodriguez. “You can see other sports doing that. You have all these other sports here in Fort Wayne, where kids can look up to and watch those teams play.”
He also says watching teams like Fort Wayne FC or 1972SC can signal to younger players that good talent stays in Fort Wayne, or even comes to Fort Wayne from all over the world to play here.
And 1927SC already has proof of successful players. Last year Seth Mahlmeister, the leading scorer across the league, was called up to play for the Flint City Bucks
, which plays in the same league as Fort Wayne FC.
“The best advertisement for our team is for one of our players to move up a level and be successful,” says Bennett.
Recently, DeMarcus Beasley, who was born and raised in Fort Wayne, was inducted into the Soccer Hall of Fame.
Beasley is also a brand ambassador and an owner of Fort Wayne FC. His highly decorated career is further proof that athletes from Fort Wayne can succeed.
“It’s proof that it can happen in your own town and hopefully inspire kids at a young age,” says Rodriguez.
The 1927SC will play six home games this season, and General Manager Dave Bennett says
he’s hoping the people will come out and get to know the team, who have dedicated their time to practicing and preparing for the season.
“We’re the rock and roll team,” Bennett jokes before turning to Lopez and Rodriguez, “Wait until you guys see what I have prepared for you– for the walkout.”
To see 1927SC in action, check out their schedule here.
Their season opener is May 13 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $5 and are available online or at the door. Food and drinks, including adult beverages, are available at games.
The 2023 schedule for 1927SC.