A Short History of the Ottumwa Soccer Club (originally known as the Southern Iowa Soccer Association) from 1997 – 2002
The Ottumwa Soccer Club began as the “Southern Iowa Soccer Association” in October 1997. We started as a sub-group of the Ottumwa YMCA so as to have immediate access to a 501(c)(3) number for our application for a grant from the USSF. During that same period of time we became an affiliate of the Iowa State Youth Soccer Association (which later changed its name to the Iowa Soccer Association). Organized youth soccer was now officially underway in Ottumwa.
Les Redinbaugh was the first president. He moved to the Quad Cities in March 1998 (John Deere transfer), so Vice-President Steve Hanson assumed the office. Becca Schaffter was treasurer, but we lost her also that same spring when John Deere transferred herhusband. We finally managed to hold our first official board meeting in June 1998. Many were invited; most attended. See the agenda in the appendix.
During our first season, our teams played games against each other; there were no opponents from outside our own club. In the fall of 1999 we played some games against some teams from Albia on one Saturday and against some teams from Oskaloosa on another Saturday. Thus our league was born. By the fall of 2000 our league came to include Albia, Oskaloosa, Centerville, Fairfield, Grinnell and Ottumwa. For the first couple of seasons we used small homemade goals, made with PVC pipe. On April 1, 1999 we installed the first permanent steel goals at Walsh Soccer Complex, manufactured and donated by Al-Jon, Inc. Until that date there were no permanent, full-size soccer goals in Ottumwa.
Although we didn’t get the USSF grant in 1998, we did continue to pursue the project of creating a first-class soccer complex at Walsh. John Deere agreed to manufacture some more steel goals for us and, in August 1999, we started the process to get the Ottumwa unit of the Iowa National Guard to bring in their heavy equipment and renovate the fields at Walsh: remove concrete curbing and other concrete fixtures from the old football field, remove trees, fill in ditches, level and grade. By the summer of 2000 the Adjutant General had given his approval for the National Guard project and work was scheduled for September, October and November of 2000. Indian Hills Community College gave our club permission to use their field at the airport for the 2000-01 seasons while the Walsh renovation was in progress. The Guard finished their work in the summer of 2001. During September and October, various volunteers helped to fill low spots, paint goals, disc the newly created areas and plant grass. Dave Cobler (area farmer) was a key player during this phase.
In December of 2000 we submitted another application for a grant from the USSF. We were advised in May 2001 that we had been awarded a grant in the amount of $40,000: $20,000 for equipment and a $20,000 credit with Musco Lighting for lights. By March 2002 we had satisfied all the USSF requirements for proof of funds raised, field lease, etc. and spent $10,000 for equipment from the Kwikgoal company. We transferred the remaining $10,000 equipment money to the Musco fund and worked with Musco Lighting throughout the course of the summer and fall of 2002 on the lighting project. Lights were installed in the first week of November 2002. Alliant Energy donated cable, use of equipment and two employees to lay the cable in December.
In addition to our efforts to organize a Saturday traveling league for our players and develop a first-class soccer facility for Ottumwa, we gave our energy and attention to the creation of programs such as the Ottumwa Elementary Soccer League. On six Fridays in the fall and six Fridays in the spring, teams from participating elementary schools meet each other to play soccer between 3:30 and 4:30. Each season culminates with a tournament to determine a champion. The Eisenhower Generals won the first trophy in the fall of 1999. The Friday after-school elementary soccer program is free for all participants.
We have organized summer camps each year starting in June 1999. David Spataru, professional soccer player from Israel and France, gave the first camp. Since then the annual summer camp has been led by Coach Blair Reid and players from Grand View College in Des Moines.
Our soccer club has been the driving force behind the movement to install soccer as an official sport at Ottumwa High School. We made yearly presentations to the school board to inform them of our progress and to request that they make soccer a school sport. [Our school was the only one of its size in the state of Iowa not to have soccer as a school sport.] In June 2001, the school board instructed us that they would not make soccer a school sport for at least three more years, due to a lack of funds. At that point we set out to secure funding from outside sources. In November 2001, Excel agreed to provide $10,000 per year for three years to support soccer as a school sport. Some months later an individual donor decided to match Excel’s offer. The “A” Club promised to make up the difference (if any) for any costs that might exceed these guaranteed funds and, in August 2002, the school board approved soccer as a school sport, effecive in the 2003-04 school year. [During negotiations with the “A” Club, we agreed to change our club name from something with “Southern Iowa” to something with “Ottumwa.”]
Our club also provided the impetus to create a city soccer facility. We worked with the local Latino civic group (Voces Hispanas de Ottumwa) and with Bill Perry of the Parks and Recreation Department of Ottumwa to establish a soccer facility along the river, upstream from the adult softball field. In September 2001, Parks & Rec removed three trees and set up one field. In the spring of 2002 some more trees were removed, allowing for a second field.
As of December 31, 2002 this is a very brief summary of the accomplishments of the Ottumwa Soccer Club.