Photo courtesy of Kaw Valley FC
Kaw Valley FC, one of 12 new member clubs competing in the upcoming 2018 PDL season, has deep connections to its local communities, evidenced through its relationship with both Sporting Kansas City and the University of Kansas.
“When Marcus first came to me in the fall with the idea for this collaboration, I was immediately intrigued,” said Jordan Bass, the KU Sports Management Program Director and Kaw Valley FC Vice President. “It was clear he had a vision for what ultimately became Kaw Valley FC and wanted the club to become a valuable member of the Lawrence and Topeka community. This collaboration has become an incredible opportunity for myself and our students to take what we discuss in the classroom into the field with an organization on the ground level. Our Graduate Student Executive Staff will serve in leadership roles and help coordinate and oversee the group of undergraduate employees who will assist on events and game days. It is expected some of the undergraduates will transition into the leadership positions if they continue on to complete their Masters degree at KU. To have this real-life laboratory in which to implement all the things we discuss in classes is invaluable for the KU Sport Management program. I have also personally really enjoyed serving as Vice President of KVFC. This community needs as team like KVFC to call their own in the summer months after college sports conclude and I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive feedback we’ve received from our fans, sponsors, and community members.”
Part of the club’s work with the Jayhawks comes in the form of a unique, collaborative partnership with the University of Kansas Sport Management program. Through this close bond, graduate students within the program will have a chance to participate in Kaw Valley FC’s inaugural PDL season in leadership roles within the club. Three students from Kansas will occupy high-level positions for the team, including Caleb Feist as Director of Business Development, Alex Blue as Director of Community Relations and Cali Cox as Director of Marketing and Public Relations.
“When we were first approached about this opportunity from the PDL one of the things that was important to me was to find the right technical and operational partners,” said Marcus Dudley, Kaw Valley FC Executive Director. “On the technical side, we wanted to form and maintain our relationship with Sporting Kansas City. From the operational perspective, it was important to partner with an organization with experience in sport management. We couldn’t have found a better partner than the KU Sport Management program, one of the most well-respected and growing programs in the country. I’m very excited about this collaboration because anytime you can combine intelligent, highly-motivated individuals from different organizations toward a common goal or cause you will have success. The students at KU who are looking to take the next step in their career are exactly the type of people we are looking for to collaborate with on such an important community initiative like Kaw Valley FC.”
The link with KU’s Sport Management program is just the latest in a number of steps Kaw Valley FC has taken to become a valuable, contributing member of its local community. In addition to the program, the club has signed numerous players from Sporting Kansas City’s Academy system, continuing to develop the growing player development pathway in the region and providing another home for local talent to continue to shine.
“We’re thrilled to see such a quality relationship blooming between KU and Kaw Valley FC,” said Joel Nash, the USL’s Director of Business Development. “One of the unique opportunities sports provides is a connection to the community, which is something universities also share. The PDL is a huge proponent of the effective and positive model where our member clubs partner with key community groups. These relationships not only elevate the abilities of the PDL franchises, but also provide incredible real-world experiences through these partnerships.”
Hear more from the three graduate students below about what the unique program provides them, and follow along with Kaw Valley FC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as the club competes in its inaugural season.
"It's really exciting and challenging to be a part of a brand new sporting organization like Kaw Valley FC. Our organizational structure is strong, but because we're new as a club, each of us will be afforded a lot of different responsibilities, allowing us to succeed, fail and grow in our roles. We're going to have a lot of fun this summer."
“I am hoping to gain more experience in event management and operations in sports. I am excited to be a part of a new team and bring as much creativity to Kaw Valley FC as possible. I'm also hoping to keep the undergraduate students as involved as possible and help them have a great experience with the team this summer.”
“I think this is such a great opportunity for us to garner real life experiences and give us insight on what to expect in the world of sport. I personally hope to familiarize myself in numerous disciplines — from marketing, to business operations, sponsorships and community engagement to make me a more well-rounded professional.”