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Donnelly College and Sporting KC host pickup soccer game

Donnelly College kicked off the school year with a pickup soccer tournament on the campus’s new mini outdoor turf soccer field. Representatives from Sporting KC joined the college for the event. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

by Moira Cullings

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — In less than four years, Kansas City will be one of 11 U.S. cities to host the 2026 World Cup.

As excitement builds, Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas, has another reason to celebrate.

“After a massive campus renovation that finished this spring, everyone is excited for students to be able to fully utilize the [new] spaces,” said Michaela Remijio, director of marketing and communications at Donnelly.

One of the additions is a mini outdoor turf soccer field, which is already being recognized as a gem within the area.

“It is one of the best small-sided pitches in Kansas City,” said Brennan Williams, director of youth soccer programming for Sporting KC, “and Donnelly is looking to utilize the field to help create a sense of community on campus.

“The first pickup event we held last week was a great example of the game bringing people together.”

On Sept. 9, representatives from Sporting KC joined the college in hosting a pickup soccer tournament on the field.

Msgr. Stuart Swetland, president of Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas, tries his hand as goalkeeper at Donnelly’s new mini outdoor soccer field. The field is one of many new additions to Donnelly. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Students were invited to play, socialize and enjoy pizza with their classmates, faculty and the club’s reps. They also had the opportunity to enter a drawing for Sporting KC tickets.

The partnership is one way Sporting KC is getting involved in the Kansas City community by providing activities, community service, and internship and coaching opportunities to youth and young adults.

“Kansas City is the soccer capital of America for a reason,” said Williams. “Despite already being far [and] away the most popular youth sport in the city, there is still so much more growth on the way.

“We are hoping to unite and inspire the community through the sport of soccer and develop the next generation of players and fans.”

Ezequiel Hernandez-Cruz, a student and staff member at Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas, stops this would-be goal in flight. Hernandez-Cruz joined other students and staff on Sept. 9 at the college’s new mini soccer field for a pickup tournament with representatives of Sporting KC. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Msgr. Stuart Swetland, president of Donnelly, was eager to get in on the fun and kick the ball around with his students.

“If you look at John Paul II, who was such a great sportsman himself, what he wrote about the role of sports [is] it teaches virtue,” he said. “It teaches people teamwork and sacrifice.

“And of course, St. Paul used many  athletic metaphors when he talked about the spiritual life. So, we like to reflect on that when we get together and kick the ball around.”

Remijio said that Donnelly has hosted a welcome week for its students for several years now, but this one was special due to the new field.

She hopes the event was a memorable one for the college community and that the Sporting KC partnership will continue to grow.

“With the exciting announcement that Kansas City will be a host city for the 2026 World Cup and the construction of KC Current’s brand-new women’s soccer stadium,” she said, “we at Donnelly are grateful to support and be a part of that soccer awareness and growth in the city.”

Brennan Williams uses his heel to flick a ball into the net during the soccer tournament at Donnelly College kicked off. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Williams, who has attended a World Cup in the past, said one of his favorite aspects of the event was how welcoming the community was to visitors.

“I know this is something that Kansas City will also excel in when we welcome the world,” he said.

For now, Donnelly students can focus on enjoying the sport in their own backyard.

“Based off our first event at Donnelly,” he said, “it is clear that the students already have a passion for the game.

“Even for those who are new to soccer, with all that is coming in Kansas City in the next few years, there will be more opportunities than ever for fans of all ages to fall in love with the game.”

About the author

Moira Cullings

Moira attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park and Benedictine College in Atchison. She majored in marketing, minored in psychology and played center midfield for the women’s soccer team. Moira joined The Leaven staff as a feature writer and social media editor in 2015. After a move to Denver, Moira resumed her full-time position at The Leaven and continues to write and manage its website, social media channels. Her favorite assignment was traveling to the Holy Land to take photos for a group pilgrimage in 2019.

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