Local athletes play soccer tournament in Kansas City

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By Kelsey Wheatcroft-Schapker

Three Mount Vernon seventh grade boys are at the top of their game when it comes to soccer, and they recently took a trip that they will never forget.

Gabe Owens, son of Shelly and Greg, Xavier Angel, son of Margaret and Bryan, and Braden Dike, son of Denise and John, recently traveled to Kansas City, MO to compete in a tournament for their year-round soccer club, Sporting Southern Indiana.

Sporting Southern Indiana (SSI), formerly Southwest Indiana Soccer Association (SWISA), is one of the oldest and largest travel soccer clubs in the Tri-State area. The club was founded in 1984 and continues to grow. In the 2014-2015 season, the club had over 30 boys and girls teams in age brackets nine through eighteen.

As of March 2015 SSI became the first affiliate of Sporting Kansas City in the state of Indiana, and because of the affiliation, SSI players are now invited to engage in the annual Academy Affiliate weekend. This is an event that brings together the most competitive and talented youth soccer players from across the Midwest, including Nebraska, Tennessee, Arkansas, Minnesota, Indiana and more.

This is where the three local athletes come in.

Owens, Angel, and Dike said the tournament they participated in with different soccer players from across the MidWest was difficult and challenging but very rewarding. The boys said the game was their first time playing on a turf-field, and the competition was much more involved than what they are used to.

The boys started playing soccer when they were just four-years-old and said they enjoy all aspects of the sport from their teammates, to coaches and the games. When asked one word to describe participating in the game in Kansas City, the boys responded with: Owens, “Awesome.” Angel, “Fantastic.” Dike, “Incredible.”

Select SSI players are also named to the Academy Affiliate All-Star Teams throughout the year, and are able to partake in an all-star game. While in Kansas City, Angel was selected by his local coaches, Adam Miller and Rob Schoenstein to participate in the all-star game, and said he was honored to play.

Besides Owens, Angel, and Dike getting to play, they also witnessed a professional MLS soccer match between Sporting Kansas City and Vancouver Whitecaps.

Last year, the local athletes and their SSI team had a very successful season, making it all the way to state in Indianapolis, which is known as the Challenge Cup. Even though their team lost the final game with a score of 2-1, the boys said making it to state was phenomenal.

The three said they hope to play for the Mount Vernon High School soccer team when they are in high school and continue playing as they go to college one day.

This fall the boys and their SSI teammates will be on the road again, traveling to play in Tennessee in September and St. Louis in October.