Sometimes in Lansing you come across something new and exciting without really knowing how you haven’t known about it before. Sometimes it’s a passing blip on your Facebook wall. Sometimes a friend in going and mentions it to you. Sometimes someone you know creates the entire branding for a new sports team and his son plays on their reserve team. Even this last part didn’t get me fully interested in this new team. It wasn’t until I was asked to write a “break out” piece for a local paper about Lansing United, that I finally took the time to really find out about this new sports team.
Lansing United is the newest members of the National Premier Soccer League. The NPSL is the fastest growing national soccer league in the United States. Lansing United is an expansion team in the Great Lakes Conference. Last week this team came in first place in the Great Lakes Conference and moved on to the playoffs. There were four teams that got to play in the Midwest Region Playoffs. The game I was asked to cover was Saturday’s semi final game. Lansing United played against the Minnesota United Reserves.
I really didn’t know what to expect when I got there but I thought I would wing it. I had looked up the address before leaving. The home games are all held at the East Lansing Soccer Complex. I didn’t even know this place existed. I had a brief memory of this place from about 6 years ago as a dirt pile at the end of a new walking trail. It’s amazing how quickly things can grow in this area.
Walking up the walkway I already could feel the intense playfulness atmosphere. There were children running around passing a soccer ball between them. In fact almost every kid had a ball. There was a pizza truck parked to the side of the pavilion and stacks of pizzas were being carried into the pavilion. There were lots of people dressed in bright baby blue vests. These are the volunteers that answered questions, watched the gate and sold you tickets. It’s very professional looking.
Inside the gate the stands were full. I found out later from the media director that the stands were full for every game. Not only were the stands full but a good chunk of grass had folks sitting on it. I would say there were close to 1000 people watching this game.I quickly made my way to the very verbose cheering section. I had been told to get a photo of them by Camron Gnass whose creative studio, Traction created the branding for the team. The sea of blue was easy to spot as well as the constant singing, chanting and yelling that came from this section. And if that didn’t draw me down there the smoke canisters and flying flag would have.
I found a place nearby and watched as the game began. The last time I watched a soccer game was when my boys were on a team. It’s been a long time. I have never watched adults play soccer. I was instantly amazed by the stamina, agility and speed of these players. The maneuvering of the ball with their feet reminded me of ballet, until they pulled that leg back and gave that ball a full on kick. There is a fascinating balance between the precise positioning of the ball with the feet and then the aggressive full on assault to get that ball into the goal. It really is amazing to watch. After getting some really great shots I left. I found out through social media they had won the semi final game and that meant they would play Sunday as well in the finals.I brought my family back for that one and we watched this inaugural Lansing team play at an East Lansing sports field and win the Midwest Region Championship.
I am so glad Lansing has another win.