Fort Wayne Sport Club

Club History

Club History

 


Early Years: 1927–1937

 



The Fort Wayne Sport Club was founded by soccer players who had come to the city from Germany. These young men, who played for the local industrial teams of General Electric, the Pennsylvania Railroad and International Harvester, met on March 18, 1927, at the Männerchor (Men’s Choir) Hall on Main Street, and organized the Club for “the Promotion of Soccer Football and German culture.” For four years the Club had no home of its own. It joined the National Soccer League, and played its home games at International Harvester or on the General Electric field on Taylor Street at Brooklyn Avenue. Games were usually played on Sunday afternoon, with a dinner and dance the evening before. Social activities were held at the Männerchor Hall, St. Peter’s Church Hall and the Kreis Stolzenau Hall. In 1931, the Sport Club purchased four and one-half acres of land on Ardmore Avenue (then Hayden Road) and this has been its home ever since. The first clubhouse was built in 1931, and the Ladies Auxiliary formed that same year. Home brew, home-made wine, dances and card games were features of early entertainment. A dance hall, kitchen, rest rooms and caretaker’s quarters were added and dedicated in 1934.

In 1933 the Club made history in Fort Wayne by playing the first soccer game ever played at League Park, the home of many sporting events including Fort Wayne’s last two 12 major-league baseball games. League Park was located south of the St. Mary’s River between Calhoun Street on the west and Clinton Street on the east, and a mostly empty lot on the south.  Several other games followed at the park, including a game against Notre Dame.

The 1933 Fort Wayne Sport Club soccer team boasted a record of 12 victories, 4 ties and no losses scoring 47 goals while allowing 20. This was the Club’s most successful season since founding and it was reported that these victories came against some of the best amateur soccer teams in the Midwest.


Critical Years: 1937–1950

 



The Club began several challenging years in 1937. Original team members were older and recruiting was difficult, since young men no longer came from Germany. During World War II, the soccer program ceased, membership dropped and social activities were curtailed accordingly. In 1947, soccer resumed. The Club recruited young men from the Lutheran Walther League, and experienced South American and Mexican players from Indiana Tech. These players, along with some old timers, comprised the initial post war teams. For the first time, the Sport Club and its soccer team had taken on a true international flavor.


Golden Years: 1951–1977

 



The influx of new European and South American soccer talent in the 1950s helped boost membership and revitalize all phases of club activity. The Club joined the Ohio-Indiana Soccer League and soon became a powerhouse, winning championships in the 1954-55, 1956-57 and 1959-60 seasons. The team many consider the finest in Sport Club history enjoyed an undefeated season in 1962-63 and won five consecutive titles ending with the 1967-68 season. They also won the League Tournament in 1963, 1964, and 1967, as well as invitational tournament championships in Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Toledo, Columbus, and Cincinnati. The present, beautiful club home was completed in November, 1967 and was paid off in less than two years – a permanent tribute to the talents and dedication of its members. In 1969, a Second Team entered league competition, and Junior Soccer made its debut, teaching boys the fundamentals of the game. Although soccer dominated, bowling became an active club sport during winter months, while the social scene featured the annual Schützenfest, family suppers, dinner dances and even a mixed chorus, in 1974.


Growth Years: 1977–2005

 

In 1981, the Sport Club, Fort Wayne Turners, and Männerchor began Fort Wayne’s annual Germanfest as a cooperative effort. Today, Club members continue to enjoy a varied social calendar including dances, holiday parties and the annual Schützenfest. Club soccer programs, for players of all ages and skill levels, have grown along with the rise of the sport in America. From a handful of teams in the 1970s and 1980s, hundreds of players, ages four to eighteen, now participate in the youth soccer recreational program. The competitive youth travel program, now boasting two dozen teams, has produced numerous state champions, as well as a 2005 U15 girls’ national championship. Volunteer coaches in both highly regarded programs emphasize skill development, sportsmanship, fair play, and a love of the game. Adult soccer also flourishes on several fronts. The Club’s First Team, including many current and former college players, continues to be the team to beat in this area of the state. Competing in the city’s amateur league against players half their age, the Men’s 30 and Over team has also been very successful, winning consecutive state championships in 1991, 1992, and 1993. In the early 1990s, recreational Over 30 and Co-Ed 6 vs. 6 programs were introduced to bring new adults to the game and keep the Club’s old timers playing. A growing number of men and women ages 30 to 70 enjoy the friendly competition. Since 2001, fall has also featured a friendly, Men’s 50 and Over match with long-time rival, Edelweiss Club from Dayton, Ohio. Play began in 2004 on two additional fields, the “Jim Kelley Fort Wayne Sport Club Youth Soccer Complex,” built on land donated by and developed through the generosity and foresight of local businessman James E. Kelley. The Club’s four professionally groomed fields will offer a quality home to area soccer enthusiasts of all ages for years to come.

Fort Wayne Sport Club Today: 2005 to Present

Today, Fort Wayne Sport Club has expanded to nine (9) fields which has allowed the Club to expand its Youth Soccer operations. In addition, several years ago, Youth Soccer moved to an Academy based program and expanded and improved its coaching staff to include members of the Indiana State Soccer Hall of Fame, former MLS players and various local college coaches. Today, Fort Wayne Sport Club boasts one of the premier player development academy's in the State of Indiana. And in 2016, the Club has had a State Cup Winner who has advanced to regionals (beating two teams comprised of many Division I Players)  and two President's Cup winners, one of which, the 00 Girls Strikers, that has advanced to Nationals. The Club also had several Challenge Cup winners in 2016.

More History:

FWSC First Undefeated Team

Written on April 27, 2016 | comments closed

News article from 1963:

Ever Striving to improve, the Sport Club went through its first undefeated season in 1962-63. This team has been considered by many to be the finest team in the Sport Club history, rivaled only by the 1933 team of 30 years ago. The teams continued their supremacy over the other league teams by winning the title for the next five years ending with he 1967-68 season During these years, the Sport Club also won the League Tournament three times, in 1963, 1964, and 1967. Invitational Tournament championships in Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Toledo, Columbus and Cincinnati, also filled the trophy cases of the club.

The Sport Club inaugurated its own Invitational Tournament on Labor Day of 1960 and has continued to host the event each year. The local Kickers won this tournament six times, in 1961, 1964, 1968, 1971, 1972, and 1976.



FWSC 1927

 

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