GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Football Club is known for its fierce men’s team, but this year they’re looking to level the playing field by adding a women’s team.
Just two games in, coach Lewis Robinson says it’s a step in the right direction with growing talent and interest in soccer in West Michigan.
“I have been hoping they would start a women’s team, not thinking that I would actually be on it,” said player Clare Carlson.
Carlson just graduated from college. She thought her days of kicking the ball around the field in a competitive fashion were over, but now it could be just beginning.
“For us as a team, I think it means a lot to have the community rally around us, and really make sure women’s sports are celebrated,” said Anna Stinson, 25.
Stinson said it’s not just about the opportunity to get back on the field, but it’s a major move for women’s equality in a highly dominated male sports world.
“There’s not a lot of teams on the west side of the state where you can play at a highly competitive level in this way," said Sadie Misiewicz, who at 18 years old is one of the youngest players on the team.
"To be able to show young athletes there’s something out there for them, and when you work hard you can get somewhere as great as GRFC."
Misiewicz just finished her freshman year and soccer season at Michigan State. She said it’s a great opportunity for her to stay in shape on her off season, but also a game changer for young, talented soccer players to have a competitive team to strive toward.
“The United States women’s team is one of the top teams in the world, so I think here and like most places in the world, people like to support what they are good at and right now the women’s team is at the top end nationally," Robinson said.
"I think that definitely helps the women’s game and I think there has been a great reaction of kids that come out and want to see the women play and to see the top females in west Michigan compete."
Robinson has selected the top female athletes in West Michigan to play this summer. They won their first game in front of a crowd of 600, and he’s hoping this is the beginning of a lasting legacy.
“We shall hope it’s a forever thing, that’s the goal," Robinson said. "We want to get better every year and bring in more players but obviously that depends on how we do on the field and how the club embraces it."
The women’s summer season schedule consists of 10 more regular season games before conference playoffs. The next four games are on the road before the next home game at Grandville High School.