FC Wichita launched the first non-collegiate outdoor women’s soccer team in Wichita on Tuesday, announcing it will compete in the Women’s Premier Soccer League beginning this spring.
Director of soccer operations Larry Inlow announced the hiring of coach Sammy Lane, currently the Hutchinson Community College women’s coach, and the signing of the program’s first player, 2009 Goddard graduate and Wichita native Whitney Berry.
FC Wichita’s home opener will be on May 13 against FC Dallas. Inlow said he will try to arrange where the men’s and women’s senior clubs play at Stryker Soccer Complex on the same night.
“This is massive for women’s soccer in Wichita,” Inlow said. “Girls in Wichita have never had this kind of avenue to take their career and be seen on a national stage before. They’ve never had something they could come home to. This is unbelievably beneficial to them and the city. These girls are pioneers and we’re building history as we go now.”
It was crucial to Inlow to recruit Lane, who has local connections and is well-respected in the soccer community. Inlow believes he will unlock several of the area’s best players, allowing FC Wichita to build a competitive roster immediately.
It was also important to Inlow for Berry, who scored 166 career goals and was The Eagle’s first four-time All-Metro athlete, to be the first team’s signing. She is regarded as one of the top talents Wichita has produced in the last decade, as Berry went on to also become a four-time All-Big 12 player at Kansas.
“We’re so proud to have Whitney be our first signing and for her to be able to wear the badge and represent her own city,” Inlow said. “She is obviously an extreme talent and she has excelled at every level and just been a huge success. What an idol for the young girls of Wichita to look up to and she’s going to be a great mentor to help other Wichita girls succeed too. Whitney was everything we were looking for, on and off the field.”
Inlow also said goalkeeper Jami Reichenberger, forward Peyton Vincze, and midfielder Brookelynn Entz — all with local connections — are joining the team. Reichenberger is a Bishop Carroll graduate who became a standout at Butler and recently transferred to Northern Iowa, while Vincze is a 16-year-old Andover Central student who has already orally committed to Oklahoma State and Entz is a senior at Newton who has signed with Kansas State.
Playing for FC Wichita does not affect eligibility with the Kansas State High School Activities Association or in college because it is an amateur team and does not pay its players. It was unclear Thursday if FC Wichita players in high school could play for their high school teams in the spring season since the seasons overlap.