Great Lakes Wanderers Add Women’s Soccer Club Heading into 2019 Season
It was 2015 and the small town of Cedar Springs, MI was rocked, as local family, Brian and Kim Ricker, discovered that their son, Brison, had been diagnosed with cancer. Brison, 15 at the time, was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma and given an estimated 9 months to live. Just 11 months into their journey with Brison, the Rickers were dealt another blow as their youngest son, Preston, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
The family created Team Rickerstrong on Facebook to request prayer and share information with the community of over 16,000 followers that rallied to support them in various ways.
Medical costs and other financial stresses were piling up and community members looked for ways that they could help shoulder some of that burden. Brison and the Rickers, known as avid soccer fan in the Cedar Springs community, were approached about putting on charity soccer matches at the Cedar Rock Sports Plex to help raise money in support of their fight and the first annual charity soccer match took place in the spring of 2017.
The event included an evening full of excellent soccer on the indoor pitch and even provided fun halftime entertainment in a successful effort that brought community members together in support of their neighbors.
Later that year, Brison Ricker ended his nearly 2 year battle with cancer just before Christmas on December 23, 2017.
As Preston’s recovery from his diagnosis continued, so too did the community spirit to help the Rickers and others like them in their battles with cancer and follow-up charity matches have continued in spring 2018 & 2019.
In late 2018, the idea was had to create a full time team in the Cedar Springs community, known as the Great Lakes Wanderers, that would play home games at the Cedar Rock Sports Plex and participate in the Premier Arena Soccer League.
The team would be comprised of players from across the talent-rich West Michigan landscape. The PASL was eager to add the Wanderers to their roster of talented indoor teams and put them on an accelerated schedule, which provided them to participate long before ownership had ever thought possible.
The Premier Arena Soccer League (PASL), part of the American Association of Soccer 567 (5 player, 6 player and 7 player), gave the Wanderers established clubs to test themselves against and the opportunity to earn a bid in the post-season for a chance to play for a national championship in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Wanderers play with 5 fielders and a goalie with rules, speed of play and contact that mimic hockey, a fitting choice as the team play on a field that matches the standard hockey rink size.
The annual charity game is still at the heart of the team and the Wanderers concluded their third annual charity matches this past spring.
From the outset, the plan had always been to partner the men’s team with a women’s club, but the accelerated schedule before the ’18-19 season required them to put that on hold. However, ownership was hard at work and the ’19-20 season will mark the inaugural outing for the women’s team.
Both clubs plays their season from December to March and have recently been undergoing competitive tryout processes for the upcoming indoor schedule.
The Wanderers have also displayed their eagerness to support soccer development in the area by establishing youth programs under the Wanderer shield and helping to prepare a local men’s team to compete towards qualifying in the upcoming US Open Cup in the US Arena League this September.
The second day of tryouts take place this evening at the Cedar Rock Sports Plex from 6pm to 9pm for those interested in earning a spot on this year’s squads.