By Wendy Nugent, Harvey County Now
NEWTON—The Newton Railers Soccer Club has had some tough losses the past few years that go beyond the field.
A couple of team members passed away at young ages. They were Maddox Crabtree and Payton Rose.
Now, the club is getting legacy patches for players to honor Rose and Crabtree.
“We want their legacy to live on,” said Club President Lance Leggett, adding they’re also getting all-new uniforms this year.
The club has 160 kids registered this year, he said, and up next is their outdoor season.
“Most of our teams play out of the Wichita league,” Leggett said. “They built a $22 million complex in Wichita.”
That complex has indoor and outdoor spaces in which players can compete.
“It truly is a world-class complex,” Leggett said. “It hosts college championships, camps with Real Madrid Camp, high school state championships and more. Our kids get to absorb all of that and get to play their games there. Pretty awesome.”
The club started up as Newton United about 15 to 20 years ago. At one point, there was a split with the girls having one team, and then the boys split into two separate teams. They came back together three years ago, Leggett said.
“We are a Sporting Kansas City (SKC) Sporting Club Member,” Leggett said. “This is the men’s professional soccer team out of Kansas City. We get to interact with their club leadership, have connections with them. Recently, we had 100 players and family attend a match.”
The club likes being Railers.
“We’ve tried to embrace the Railer way because of the town—the high school and the pride,” Leggett said. “We felt like it’s important; community is huge for the kids.”
The team has a variety of teams with members of various ages. Leggett said most of their coaches are licensed by U.S. Soccer, a nationwide soccer organization.
One of their older teams only attends tournaments, Leggett said.
“They get more exposure that way,” Leggett said, adding the team is comprised of seventh- and eighth-graders.
He has a 14-year-old girl playing on a Wichita team, and his 11-year-old son will play with the Newton Railers in the winter if they need him and in the spring.
The Newton Railers Soccer Club had a thank-you celebration last month, where 200 to 300 parents attended.
“It was pretty eye-opening for parents,” Leggett said. “We strive to keep our costs low. We don’t have a lot of money. We don’t have a real reason to bring in money and sit on it.”
The organization has a board, and Leggett said, as club president, he’s focusing on club development—overall health and advancement of the club.
He said they followed the Kansas Youth Soccer guidelines when it came to the pandemic.
“Even when we got back to play, there were restrictions and things we needed to follow to be safe to play again,” Leggett said. “We lost a season, basically.”
The ages of team players range from 4 to 13. The oldest kids were born in 2008, Leggett said. They have co-ed, boys and girls teams.
With the club, they’re looking to the future.
“One of the main focuses is how can we get the high school team to be the best in the state,” Leggett said.
Leggett said they have at least four kids who could go on to play high-level college soccer and that the club likes to do things in the community, like letting the players walk onto the field with high school players.