Wanderers Winter ‘21-’22 Announcement

by GRW

Grand Rapids, Mi - Wanderers staff has always felt like it could help make Grand Rapids a destination city for arena soccer. This work has been a work in progress for years, however, COVID19 had a way to advance many things forward in the world. To recap our progress in just three winter seasons: 

  • *2017 - Brought arena soccer to Grand Rapids with a Men's team (& reserves) 
  • *2017 - Established a model for an affiliation model within the arena soccer pyramid w/Muskegon Risers
  • *2019 - Became one of the first clubs to have Men's & Women's teams in arena soccer
  • *2019/2020 - Women’s team qualified for the PASL national finals in their first season 
  • *2020/2021 - Fielded first youth teams in competitive play
  • *2021 - Men’s squad wins first club trophy with M3 Great Lakes Invitational win

After COVID19 cut our ‘19-’20 season a couple of weeks short, we set our eyes on what was next for the club and worked with the leagues to try to have a winter season in ‘20-’21. While Michigan was still on limited capacity lockdown and mask mandate, we were able to work out a plan to have a Women’s tournament and a limited Men’s invitational in the Mercy Health Arena. Much of this was a big financial risk for the club but it was clear after a long lockdown, there needed to be arena soccer as a sliver of normalcy. 

It’s been an incredible three seasons, to say the least, & we are excited to see where arena soccer goes in West Michigan. Grand Rapids is a city that has been previously named a top destination for amateur sports. We couldn’t agree more with that sentiment. 

This winter will look different again but for different reasons. The successful early seasons have opened many doors for the club and players in West Michigan. We’ve been accepted into the Major Arena Soccer League pyramid. Currently a member of the 3rd division (M3) but we have our eyes set to be in the 2nd division for the ‘22-’23 season (M2). This move would join the same league and conference as our friends on the lakeshore, Muskegon Risers. For the women, we aim to continue to compete at the highest level in arena soccer possible. The Premier Arena Soccer League is still the best complete Women's arena league out there. The Great Lakes Conference is a powerhouse of Women’s soccer talent. All the national champions have come from the Great Lakes conference. Many players have represented their country with national team caps in our conference. Lastly, we’re in negotiations with a 3,000 seat venue in Grand Rapids. This would bring our standards up to make the big jump we’re trying to make. Because of these big potential moves, we’re having to take a step back this winter to allow us to properly plan for these big moves. 

So what’s the plan for this winter???

MENS:

Our Men’s group will take a break in PASL/M3 competitive play. We’re still searching for our next Men's Head Coach that will lead our group to a PASL/M3/M2 championship. 

We will, however, host a “Great Lakes Premier League” - a 6 match West Mi arena soccer cup. This is our chance to connect with top-tier talent in the area and give them a chance to compete ahead of their outdoor season(s). Winners of the league will get a cash prize and a chance to work with the Wanderers club to be represented at the PASL National Finals held in Chicago, IL in March 2022. 

Wanderers will hold a mini-tryout to find a roster of 15 to play in the GLPL. 

More details to come, along with team registrations. Look for that info in the coming weeks on the Great Lakes Premier League. 

WOMENS:

Our Women’s group will play several friendlies throughout the winter. Most notably, a matchup between Wanderers and the new Muskegon Risers Women’s team on Jan. 8th @ Mercy Health Arena. 

Our GRW-Women’s will work with Coach Boogaart to compete in a local league & continue to work on their game. As well, they will play in a first-ever “US Arena Women's Open Cup” slated for February. 

At the moment, the coaching staff is evaluating the best tryout time. 

YOUTH: 

We will be working with our two youth coaches on the best plan. Both teams from last year are still intact. We do recognize that we want to look at new players coming into the program so we’ll work on options for coaches to look at new players. Currently, we have a U16B & U18G.

Unfortunately, we could not secure enough turf time this winter to host our own youth arena tournament. This will mean our groups will travel to Cincinnati and/or Chicago for youth matches. 

CHARITY MATCH: 

We’re excited to be able to bring this match back after a brief COVID hiatus. Look for this match to be played in March/early April. This year the match will be played in honor of one of our founding supporters, Justin "H" Harnden. He’s been a big supporter of the Wanderers since our inception and is in a fight with cancer currently. This year’s match will be for "H" and support his “figHt”! Because you can’t spell fight without “H”! All profits from the event will go towards covering expenses for "H" & his family. 

We thank you all for being a supporter of the club. Whether you’re a fan, player, staff, or just a fan of arena soccer. We’re excited about the future! 

#ForThe616