FC Kansas City, one of eight team in the new National Women’s Soccer League, is ahead of Sporting Kansas City in one regard: The Blues didn’t have to wait more than two years for a jersey sponsor.
Before FC Kansas City, which kicks off its inaugural season April 13 against the Portland Thorns FC at Shawnee Mission North District Stadium, even played a game, Title Boxing Company signed a three-year deal to sponsor the club’s three jerseys, which were unveiled Wednesday afternoon at The Jacobson.
Defender Lauren Sesselman, who plays for the Canadian national team, modeled FC Kansas City’s blue jersey, midfielder Kristie Mewis, the club’s first-round pick from Boston College, donned the black jersey and forward Melissa Henderson, who scored 70 goals in her career at Notre Dame, showed off the white uniform.
“We hoped to find a company partner that was local but also had a national footprint,” said Scott Levinson, FC Kansas City’s vice president of business operations. “What turned out to be the first and only company we talked to was Title Boxing Club and their founder, Tom Lyons.”
Title Boxing Club was founded in Overland Park in 2008 and now operates more than 400 franchises nationwide, including 13 in metropolitan Kansas City.
“It’s an honor to be part of this,” Lyons said. “When we started this (Title Boxing Club), it was all about empowering women. It’s a great fit, because we’re about making women better and giving them opportunities. Letting them know that the sky’s the limit.”
Suddenly, it all feels so real for FC Kansas City, which boasts season-ticket holders from as far away as Texas and California.
“It started feeling official when we opened training camp (March 11),” FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “Now, with the additions, like the jersey sponsor and settling on a facility where we’ll play — all the other things that go with it — it feels like, yes, it’s happening.”
And much to the delight of FC Kansas City’s players.
“It’s really exciting that all of this is coming around for women’s soccer,” Henderson said. “To be able to be part of it, we’re all just blessed to be here. It’s important to really take in how lucky we are.”
The idea of a professional women’s soccer league isn’t new, but the National Women’s Soccer League’s forerunners — the Women’s United Soccer Association (2001-03) and Women’s Professional Soccer (2009-11) — were short-lived.
“I think it’s (the new league) going to be more successful, because there’s more structure to it,” Mewis said. “Hopefully, it will keep going on and on and last longer than the leagues before it.”
FC Kansas City President Brian Budzinski is confident that the NWSL won’t be a flash in the pan.
“Point blank, U.S. Soccer being involved and the multiple millions of dollars they are committing to make sure this is going to happen make all the difference,” Budzinski said. “This is about winning the World Cup in 2015 but we’re also looking forward to bringing a championship team to Kansas City.”