What does it mean to be a community club?

There are several obvious answers, numerous explanations that Minneapolis City SC has given, and then there are the stories that back it all up, like the one about the three childhood friends who grew up in the game together and represented their city club in the NPSL.

Kevin Hoof, Max Stiegwardt, and Luke Haakenson (and Samuel Ruiz Plaza!) in their younger days.

Kevin Hoof, Max Stiegwardt, and Luke Haakenson met while playing for Plymouth Soccer Association.

They grew up in the game together, playing in the same club teams and challenging each other in pick-up games in their backyards, city parks, and random patches of grass. They all loved the game. And they loved playing together.

They continued to play together at Minnesota Thunder Academy as they grew up before, for a time, going their separate ways in the game: to different high schools and different college programs.

Typically, that would be the end of the soccer road for this group of friends. That’s where the community club aspect comes in. As a place for top local players to elevate their games, this was the perfect stop for each of the three of them. For Kevin Hoof, starting his post-soccer career, for Max Stiegwardt, hoping to make the jump to professional level, and for Luke Haakenson, still with a year left at Creighton, Minneapolis City provided the high-performance environment that they were looking for. And an opportunity to get the band back together one more time.

Max Stiegwardt on the dribble

“I think playing for Minneapolis City has rekindled our friendship” said Stiegwardt. “Getting to play together again after so many years is always awesome seeing so many similarities as well as changes we have all made to our game. It’s been really fun.”

Each of the three started with the Crows in the inaugural 2016 season and each was back again with the team in 2019, enjoying both the level and the ability to connect with old friends and the club’s own community—something that is all too often lacking in the transient teams at this level.

Kevin Hoof on the run

Kevin Hoof said, “I think the environment and community at City is the best out of any team I have ever been a part of. All the people involved are absolutely incredible and so supportive and passionate. There is a constant feeling of positivity around the club and people genuinely care about your life outside of soccer.”

Being a community club is many things, not least being a community in itself. In our modern world where social isolation is a major cause of depression and detachment, a club that brings people together is a social good.

Luke Haakenson shields the ball

“It’s interesting to think that Jon Bisswurm and I, childhood friends who played together, started this club” said club co-founder Dan Hoedeman “and we’ve seen childhood friends like Ben Wexler and Martin Browne play in the team and these young guns Kevin, Max, and Luke. I love it. I can’t wait to meet the next group of guys this is true of because I know I’ll see life long friendships being forged out of it and I know how important that is.”

So, while Hoof (who is going into business) and Stiegwardt (who is on trial at US Sassuolo in Italy) and Haakenson (who is back at Creighton for his senior year) are going their separate ways once more, they’re still Crows. Always Crows. And you would surely bet on them suiting up together at least once more before their hang up their boots.