By: John Snodgrass
May 5, 2016
John Vogt is hoping his newest venture into the world of coaching will catch on in a city that is currently going through a soccer renaissance. He also hopes it will inspire young girls from around the Tristate area to pursue the sport beyond college.
In February of 2015 Vogt, a 20-year veteran of local club and high school coaching, launched Cincinnati Sirens FC as an interim member of the Women’s Premier Soccer League, later this month the franchise will begin its inaugural season as a full member of the league. The squad currently boasts 11 players – almost all of which have local ties – but Vogt and his staff are still looking to fill several roster spots.
“It would be considered an amateur league, like a farm team, some of these girls have played pro, we do not compensate but we do take care of expenses,” Vogt, the owner and coach of the Sirens, said. “We are looking for girls in college and out of college, it doesn’t matter, as long as they can play.”
The team will be holding tryouts on May 10, 11 and 12 from 9-10:30 p.m. at Gametime Training Center in Fairfield. Vogt hopes to add about 10 or 11 more players to the WPSL squad, and if possible, add an Under-23 squad as well.
“We are looking for players that want to continue to grow in their soccer abilities and want to pursue a higher level,” Sirens Director of Operations, Shana Nelson, said. “There are some NCAA rules we know about and we are making sure we take care of those so we do not ruin their ability to continue to play in college.”
One player already signed to play for the Sirens is Kate Drummond, a former All-American at Madeira High School. She played collegiately at Akron and used to play for Cincinnati’s former WPSL team the Lady Saints. Others include Jackie Esterkamp, an Oak Hills High School standout and a former all-conference performer for Cincinnati Christian University that has played with both the Lady Saints and the Chicago Red Stars, and Lacey Smith, a current assistant coach for Thomas More College’s womens’ soccer team.
“It doesn’t mean we wouldn’t look at a player from out-of-state, but we do want to showcase local talent,” Vogt said. “The main focus is the game, have fun and play the game. If you’ve played the game your entire life, you want to continue to do that. The continuation of playing at a higher level and giving these girls a chance to play beyond college.”
The Sirens will play their home games at Lakota East High School this season and will play as members of the Valley Division of the WPSL. Other teams in the division include the Columbus Eagles, the Dayton Dutch Lions, FC Pride (Indianapolis) and Fire & Ice Soccer Club (St. Louis/Belleville, Ill.). The Sirens’ nine-game schedule features five contests at Lakota East and four road games – including a matchup with the Eagles on June 18, at MAPFRE Stadium, ahead of the Columbus Crew-Montreal Impact contest later that evening. The team is also working on scheduling a few friendlies.
Home game tickets, at the gate, will be $7 for adults and $5 for children 12-and-under. There are also discounts available for pre-ordered tickets, groups of 10 or more, and season ticket packages. The Sirens hope to benefit a local non-profit with each of their home games as well. They already have partnerships with Building Blocks for Kids, the YMCA and are hosting a KylerStrong Night for their June 26 matchwith FC Pride.
“We have a few club nights set up already, this is a youth-orientated, community-based club,” Vogt said. “That’s what I want to see the most out of this – community outreach. Get our players involved. To me it’s so cool when we can go out and do a camp, with the players, and a kid can come out to a game and see that player. At nine-, 10- or 11-years-old, to watch that player’s career. It gives that kid a drive and reason to continue to play the sport.”
Along with games, the Sirens plan on hosting three summer camps for youth players this year. The camps will feature Sirens players and members of the coaching staff. The three camps, each focusing on a different aspect of the game, will be held June 20-23, June 27-30 and July 11-14 at GameTime Training Center in Fairfield.
“Our focus as a franchise, is to get players to buy in, we want those players to stick around, we’d love for them to come back,” Vogt said. “My ultimate goal is first the game, secondly is that these kids go out and become trainers and coaches themselves to help the continuation of the game.”
The WPSL consists of 102 teams from across the country split into 15 divisions. The league’s postseason dates and locations have not been finalized at this time but the regular season will conclude July 14-16.
The Sirens will open their season on May 21 at 7 p.m. against Fire & Ice Soccer Club at Lakota East High School.