The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) has added Joplin Demize (Joplin, MO) as an expansion team.
“The NPSL is looking forward to bringing high level soccer to the great city of Joplin, Missouri,” NPSL Commissioner Michael Hitchcock remarked. “One of the goals of NPSL is to grow the game of soccer in every city in the U.S. so we’re excited to help inspire local youth players to reach their potential while providing soccer fans with a team to support in their own backyard.”
The Demize are led by the Hershewe family. Owners Ed and Alison Hershewe, who operate a prominent law firm in Joplin, are known for their passionate commitment to Joplin and its surrounding communities. They view this venture as an opportunity to develop soccer on both sides of the spectrum, including the youth game at the recreational and competitive levels.
Chris Hanlon will serve as Director of Soccer Operations in addition to serving on the coaching staff with Armen Tonianse, Luis Percovich, and Keegan Hudson.
Hanlon was a standout goalkeeper with the University of Pittsburgh before moving on to play with the Sioux City Breeze, Des Moines Menace, Springfield Storm, Springfield Demize, and Saint Louis Steamers. He has served in a variety of roles on the coaching and management side of the game, including time as a general manager, head coach, operations director, and director of coaching. Hanlon holds the National, Advanced National, and Premier Diploma with the NSCAA.
Tonianse, a USSF “C” licensed coach, was a top player at Division I Western Illinois University before playing with the Thunder Bay Chill, leading them to a franchise record for wins in 2003 and 2004.
Percovich, a graduate of William Woods University, starred for both the St. Louis Lions and the Springfield Demize.
Hudson, who will serve as the team’s Technical Director, was named First Team All-American during a national championship season at Richland College in 2004. He would go on to play with the Austin Aztex and DFW Tornados before heading to Europe to sign a pro contract with Belgian side Royal Racing FC. He would return to the U.S. to sign with the Milwaukee Wave (MISL) and Texas Outlaws (PASL-Pro).
The Demize were also quick to credit the work of Chris Cotten, Director of the Joplin Parks and Recreation Department, as a key part of the project.
“We are very excited to be a part of the NPSL,” Hanlon declared. “The amount of growth that the league has shown over the last two years is impressive and to have the chance to play in a national league where we can highlight college players in the southwest Missouri area and provide an outlet to continue to develop soccer in the area, is intriguing.”
Home games will be played at The Joplin Athletic Facility on the new Hershewe Stadium field. It features a lighted Bermuda grass field, covered seating for home and away fans, a press box, and full concessions. Players from Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Illinois expect to make up the talent pool for the Demize. Players from local colleges like Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Neosho, Southwest Baptist University, Crowder, and Missouri Valley will now have a place to showcase their talents.
The organization expects to bring in top international talent to round out their roster. Joplin will join 30 other expansion teams for the 2014 NPSL season.