GROWING THE WOMEN’S GAME IN INDIANA
On Sept. 24, 2021, Indy Eleven took its first formal steps into the women’s game by purchasing a franchise in the United Soccer League (USL) W League, a new pre-professional women’s league set to kick off its Inaugural Season in 2022.
The USL W League strives to use women’s soccer as a force for societal good by creating a national platform to increase opportunity, gender equity, and career development. The USL W League is committed to helping girls and women achieve their dreams by providing over 750 new opportunities for women to play, coach, and work in soccer. Further, with teams located across the country, thousands of women’s soccer fans will have new and greater access to the sport they love. Ultimately, the USL W League will provide a platform that allows for greater exposure both on and off the field resulting in a stronger game led by strong women. To learn more about the new league debuting on the field in 2022, visit uslwleague.com.
By joining the USL W League, the Indianapolis-based club will now also offer a senior team platform on the women’s side, providing more opportunities for women to compete at the pre-professional level. The addition of the USL W League squad is part of Indy Eleven Sports and Entertainment’s long-term vision and commitment to community impact and growing the women’s game. A cornerstone of that commitment is Eleven Park, a transformative, mixed-use neighborhood development project that will include a new, multi-purpose soccer stadium. Upon its completion, Eleven Park will include best-in-class amenities and provide the flexibility in scheduling that will allow Indy Eleven to accommodate matches for its senior men’s and women’s teams as well as select youth level events.
Sept. 14, 2021: Indy Eleven and USL announce Indiana’s Team as the newest member of the USL W League, one of eventually 44 teams that would take part in the new women’s pre-professional league’s Inaugural 2022 season
December 14, 2021: Indy Eleven announced Carmel native Paul Dolinsky as the W League side’s first Head Coach and former University of Wisconsin-Madison and Xavier University standout Grace Bahr as the team’s first Assistant Coach.
December 16, 2021: Indy Eleven confirms the second, third, and fourth player signings in USL W League history by welcoming Kristina Lynch (Florida State University), Molly McLaughlin (Xavier University), and Katie Soderstrom (Butler University) as the first three roster additions to Indiana’s Team.
Dec. 28-29, 2021: Dozens of players embark upon the Grand Park Events Center for two days of open tryouts, marking the first chance for Dolinsky and Bahr to evaluate talent in person in preparation for the team’s 2022 Inaugural Season.
February 3, 2022: Indy Eleven learns it will host the USL W League’s Inaugural Game at the Grand Park Events Center on May 6 against Kings Hammer FC as part of the league’s 2022 regular season schedule release.
March 2, 2022: Goalkeeper Coach Kelly Freeland is among five female staff members added to the organization to bolster the launch of the Eleven’s Women’s Senior Team in 2022.
What They’re Saying …
“Indy Eleven has long desired to take a tangible step towards representation in the women’s game, and we are proud to partner with the United Soccer League and the W League to make that a reality. Indy Eleven is eager to do our part in growing women’s soccer here in Indiana and, just as is the case with our USL Championship team, fulfilling our aim to be the premier club in the USL W League both on and off the field starting in 2022.”
– Greg Stremlaw, Indy Eleven President & CEO
“We’re excited to welcome Indy Eleven to the USL W League as they introduce a women’s senior team. Indy Eleven is a fantastic organization that has a deep commitment to growing the sport of soccer, and we know they will be a tremendous addition to the W League.”
Betsy Haugh, USL W League Director of Operations
“The W League will give thousands of young female players of all ages the opportunity to watch, learn, and develop into young professionals. Built on the tradition of amazing athletes like USWNT and Indiana Soccer Hall of Famers Lori Lindsey and Lauren Holiday, this will help light the fire and provide an equitable platform to female athletes to become professionals. Giving local talent another opportunity to play the game they love at the highest level, this marks the first step to continue the growth of our game right here in Indiana.”
Phil Presser, Indy Eleven Sporting Director, Academy Operations & W League
Indy Eleven hosted dozens of hopeful players at the club’s first ever Open Tryouts for its USL W League outfit in late December 2021. Stay tuned here for more content from the historic two days at Westfield’s Grand Park.