ATKINS — Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, Bobby Hurwitz had never heard of Cedar Rapids until he became a player for the Cedar Rapids Rampage professional soccer team in 2015.
Four years after being a fan favorite due to his hustle and toughness, Hurwitz has permanently settled in Eastern Iowa, started a family and is ready to give back to the soccer community that welcomed him.
“Everybody here gets around each other and supports their own,” Hurwitz said. “In that sense, it is a really cool place and I definitely think there is an opportunity here for youth and soccer is really growing like crazy, especially in this area. Houses are going up all the time, so this area is growing and I want to help grow soccer with it.”
Hurwitz and former Rampage goalkeeper Rainer Hauss — who also makes his home in the area as an assistant coach with the Cornell College men’s soccer team — are launching the Benton County Soccer Training program for kids age 5-19 to teach indoor soccer skills to the individual player.
“We were just thinking there is not a whole ton of indoor facilities and abilities for youth players from 5 to 19 to get that extra training all year round here, especially during the winter,” Hurwitz said. “We really felt that with our experience, both of us having five years of professional and youth coaching experience, we thought it was a good idea to create a platform for players that are younger and focus on individuals and just try to help develop players from when they first start playing to when they are getting ready for college.”
Benton County Soccer Training will utilize the Central Lutheran School gymnasium in Newhall and the Atkins Elementary School gymnasium in Atkins for indoor training, while outdoor training will be at the Atkins Soccer Complex.
Winter training begins Nov. 11. Details can be found at the program website or at its Facebook and Instagram accounts, which Hurwitz will also use to announce future appearances by current Major Arena Soccer League players as guest coaches.
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Hurwitz stresses that this is not a team in competition with area clubs. This will be year-round individual instruction limited to no more than eight players per coach. During the winter months, the indoor gymnasiums will allow for training in futsal, which utilizes a heavier ball and a hard surface.
“If you look at all the best players in the world right now, every single one of them played futsal growing up,” Hurwitz said. “A big thing overseas. Getting with the futsal ball and playing in a smaller-sided game really helps your field awareness, one-on-one, reactions, transition. It helps pretty much every aspect of your game that translates to outdoor.”