CEDAR RAPIDS — It has got to be difficult creating a new sports team during a pandemic, but Iowa Raptors FC is giving it a shot.
The semi-pro soccer club is conducting a five-team invitational tournament this weekend. The Raptors will have two teams participating, as will Springfield FC of Illinois.
The fifth club in the event is the Red Stars of Wisconsin. The main Raptors team plays Springfield’s reserves in the opener Saturday at noon at the Fairfax Sports Complex.
The rest of the tournament will be conducted at the Metro Youth Football Association’s complex on the northeast side of Cedar Rapids. Game times are 3 p.m., 4:30 and 6 on Saturday, with third-place and championship games Sunday at 2 and 4 p.m.
“First, we wanted to get the community involved with training, in training kits,” said Bobby Hurwitz, whose family owns the club. “It kind of all just fell into place. We wanted to bring something back here and give local kids the opportunity to play with players who have been at a high level. That’s definitely something I think the community has missed. There is a lot of soccer here, but there isn’t a very high level.”
Iowa Raptors FC is being run by BC Sports in Atkins and has partnered with Microtel Inn & Suites, Mirage Properties of Marion, A5 Productions, Miguel’s Construction and Cancun restaurant. Some of the club’s players have already played in Cedar Rapids as part of the defunct Cedar Rapids Rampage indoor and outdoor teams, such as Hurwitz.
Others are local and area kids, such as Alan Kim (Cedar Rapids Kennedy), Tim Schuttlofel (Marion), Leroy Enzugusi (Linn-Mar) and Logan Rinderknecht (Cedar Rapids Prairie). The club recently conducted a tryout camp.
“We have signed Gordy Gurson, who played indoor with Rampage. Guys like Jon Pachar and Pat Kelly, who have played professionally,” Hurwitz said. “All those guys have played at a high level, so it’s going to be nice for kids like Tim Schuttlofel, who is a great player, to have an awesome opportunity to practice day in and day out with these guys.
“We definitely think that’s what it takes to get to a high level, seeing what it takes at a young age.”
Hurwitz said the Raptors are not in a league as of yet. They don’t have a schedule per se, with COVID-19 delaying both of those things.
They plan on playing multiple exhibition games this first season.
“We have not announced our league, yet, can’t give you that, yet,” Hurwitz said. “But we are definitely planning on having a very quality team. This summer, we have put together 10 exhibition games, and we (will do a) tournament thing. We’re hoping to get back out there.
“There are other things we are in the process of completing and signing before we can officially announce. That’s kind of the gist of where we are at right now. We have a lot of partners.”
Hurwitz said he feels solid about how the Raptors have gotten their name out in the community in these crazy times.
“We feel like we’ve done very well in our initial efforts,” he said. “We’re just trying to raise the level and give players around here a high level of player to play with, so they can get to that next level.”
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