FORT WAYNE – Indiana mens soccer coach Todd Yeagley is a big fan of Fort Wayne.
And with good reason.
The area has been good to the Hoosiers, and schools such as Notre Dame, in the past. Players such as Tim Wylie, a Carroll graduate, were a big part of success in Bloomington. IU and Notre Dame play in the twice-a-year National Soccer Festival.
In a state known for basketball, Fort Wayne has become a soccer hub. And that has been a boon for Yeagley, as well as other college programs.
Weve had a lot of alumni that have come from Fort Wayne, that have developed here. Its a soccer town, he said. The high school programs are very competitive. They develop top kids, not only for our program but for others.
IU, Yeagley said, has a big footprint in Fort Wayne. He wants to foster that relationship, not only because of the talent in the area, but because of the passion the city has for the sport.
Every time we come out, theres a great turnout, whether its an IU function or an IU soccer function, Yeagley said. We want to continue to do that.
Local soccer programs benefit, as well.
Greg Mauch, the boys soccer coach at Canterbury and director of coaching at Fort Wayne Sport Club, credited three decades of work on developing youth soccer leagues in the city, as well as a genuine care for the players rather than making money off the leagues.
Its kind of all just grown from that, said Mauch, whose team has won the last two Class A state championships. They put together a great foundation, and made it an attractive option for the families in our community.
Were able to market the schools pretty successfully, Mauch added. We had a real wonderful nucleus of guys that genuinely cared about the kids, cared about the game, cared about developing the game and not so much about making money off of it.
They worked to develop the kids and make it a family atmosphere, and I think we just had a really unique core of people who started things off.
In-state programs such as IU have also benefited from catching that talent early, such as Hoosier commit Rece Buckmaster, who is a junior-to-be at Canterbury.
Weve got an awful lot of players playing college ball right now, Mauch said of Fort Wayne.
I think the quality of the travel clubs, both the clubs that are left, have done a great job in providing talent that can be marketed. And college coaches are always looking. Thats their job.