Prologue: As an active community partner, the Midland Area Community Foundation and its donors put energy behind beloved Midland traditions. The Midland Soccer Club, formed in 1977, has been growing the game of soccer in Midland and providing recreational and club soccer opportunities for all ages for over 45 years. With endowment funds supporting the Club held at the Midland Area Community Foundation, the Club has the ability to advance its mission now – and in the future. The Foundation is committed to continuing to support traditions and activities that make Midland one of the best small cities in the country.
Joe Kozuch – In His Own Words, documented by Phil Eich
“The Midland Soccer Club is a soccer-driven nonprofit with a facility that serves everyone from four-year-olds to adults, with a TOPSoccer program for disabled children and adults, making it unique in Midland and a valuable resource for the community.
I became involved with the Midland Soccer Club when my daughter started playing at the age of four. At the time, the Club was discussing building new fields and a building, and since I came from the construction business, I offered to help with the expansion in early 2000. Jerry Martin was our lead fundraising person, and that’s also where the Midland Area Community Foundation comes in. What’s great about the Foundation is that they look at supporting the greater community, and they helped us fundraise for the building, the fields, and the alarm system for early weather warnings.
I’ve been off the board [for the Club] for about six years, but before I left, I wanted to create a strategic plan, and the Foundation helped pay for that as well. It was exciting to think about the future, and a strategic plan was something that the club had never done before. It’s important to be forward-thinking because board members often serve while their child is playing and then leave, and a strategic plan would help improve the longevity of the Midland Soccer Club.
For me, the reward of being involved with the Club was watching the little kids play while learning how to be a player, a child, and an athlete. It was amazing to watch the kids progress from four-year-olds to 18-year-olds, move on to college, and even put Midland on the map for college soccer.
Soccer is the ultimate team sport, and even with one or two stars, it takes everyone on the pitch to make the program work. That idea applies even to the coaching staff. When I coached, we ran it as a functioning team with a head coach and two or three extra coaches, including a team mom who handled dietary matters. Our progressive coach taught the physical aspect of the sport, especially for girls, who are more prone to knee injuries. It took all of us to make it work.
Soccer means a lot to my family because of what it has given us. My daughter played soccer all the way through high school, which, along with her academics, helped her get into West Point. It’s a difficult admission process, only accepting 1,200 kids a year, so it’s a big deal. Incredibly, during her time at West Point, there were also four other students from Midland Public Schools there at the same time. Along with the Midland Soccer Club, Midland Public Schools prepared my daughter well for college, and today she’s a Major in the Army, teaches ROTC at Cornell, and will ultimately get her doctorate. She learned, she got an education, and she’s had a career.
Currently, George [Hageage, Technical Director for Midland Soccer Club] has asked me to help with building an indoor facility, a $20 million project. It’s a give and take, but to me, it’s more about giving back to the program that has given me so much.”
– Joe Kozuch