FC Wichita

FC Wichita goalkeeper dedicated to growing women's soccer in Wichita

Goalkeeper Jami Reichenberger wants to be a foundational piece for growing women's soccer in Wichita with FC Wichita. Reichenberger, a Bishop Carroll grad and former Butler Grizzly, is the current keeper for Northern Iowa.
Goalkeeper Jami Reichenberger wants to be a foundational piece for growing women's soccer in Wichita with FC Wichita. Reichenberger, a Bishop Carroll grad and former Butler Grizzly, is the current keeper for Northern Iowa. The Wichita Eagle

In its second year of existence, the FC Wichita women's soccer team hasn't had many constants.

The cast of players has been in constant rotation, especially on the road, which has at times left the team without depth. The team is still looking for the funds necessary to build a more stable program.

But what FC Wichita does have set in stone is the dedication of goalkeeper Jami Reichenberger, a Bishop Carroll graduate looking to do whatever she can to help grow women's soccer in Wichita.

The FC Wichita women's team concluded its season on Saturday at Trinity Academy with a 1-0 loss to Fortuna Tulsa, capping a 4-4-1 season and a third-place finish in the Southwest Conference of the Women's Premier Soccer League.

"I think we're headed in the right direction," Reichenberger said. "Right now the hardest part is getting more players and keeping the dedication level up. I love the idea of (a FC Wichita women's team) and I'll support it and be a part of it for as long as I can be. Hopefully it's going to start picking up soon."

Reichenberger, a senior-to-be at Northern Iowa, was a two-time All-Metro keeper at Carroll, led the NJCAA in shutouts (18) her freshman season at Butler, and has been UNI's starting keeper since.

FC Wichita women's coach Sammy Lane, who is also a long-time coach at Hutchinson Community College, knew Reichenberger from the Hutch-Butler battles from 2015 and 2016. But he has been thoroughly impressed by Reichenberger's skill since working with her since last summer.

"She's one of the best female goalkeepers in the country," Lane said. "It's not often in women's soccer that a single player can keep a team in a game, but Jami has made some unbelievable saves and kept us in games this season. She's made saves that a men's keeper would be proud of. She's not just good for a girls goalkeeper, she's good for a goalkeeper, period."

The best example of Reichenberger elevating her team came last weekend during a 1-1 draw with the Little Rock Rangers when FC Wichita played the entire game with nine players. Reichenberger made more than 20 saves, then Dora Gallo scored in stoppage time to salvage a point.

"That's a game where I'm going to look back and be proud to tell people about," Reichenberger said. "When we went down to Little Rock with nine girls and got a point out of it."

When Greg Rauch, her former coach at Carroll, heard about the performance, he shook his head in amazement. Not because he couldn't believe what he heard, but because that's just the type of thing that Reichenberger would do.

"That's her gift, she makes everyone around her better," Rauch said. "She requires everyone around her to step it up. It doesn't surprise me, it's just awesome to see what she's done at Butler and Northern Iowa and now FC Wichita. She's an amazing keeper."

Lane desperately wants to see a semiprofessional team like FC Wichita work for women's soccer and having a player the caliber of Reichenberger be just as passionate about the process has been a relief to Lane.

He knows the program isn't a finished product by any means, but appreciates the dedication of Reichenberger to help lay the foundation.

"We had some other kids start the season with us, some really nice Big 12 kids, and they decided to leave us halfway through the season," Lane said. "Then you have someone like Jami, who is here every practice, every game, and was dedicated this whole summer.

"As we go along, we're going to have to build this program around players like Jami, and right now she's the one we're building this around."

If FC Wichita didn't have a women's team, Reichenberger said she would have been lucky to get any touches on the ball this summer. She would have likely moved back to Wichita, worked, and maybe gotten some practice in during a camp on a random weekend.

While a .500 season fell short of the preseason goals for the FC Wichita women's team, Reichenberger said it was still a step forward and better than the alternative — no opportunities for women players in Wichita.

"I absolutely loved it this summer and wouldn't have it any other way," Reichenberger said. "I got a chance to come home and play soccer. I got better this summer and finally got to play with girls I grew up playing against. We have so much talent in the Wichita area and if we can get everybody here, then we easily have the talent to win the conference."