The San Antonio Scorpions FC today introduced two veteran Major League Soccer (MLS) players – Kevin Harmse and Greg Janicki – as the new team’s first signees in preparation for North American Soccer League (NASL) competition next spring.
“Kevin and Greg were terrific defenders for the Vancouver Whitecaps, and they bring experience and toughness to the Scorpions,” said Head Coach Tim Hankinson. “Very shortly, we’ll be announcing the names of other players for our roster, but it’s great to start with two strong anchors.”
Hankinson also introduced the team’s two new assistant coaches – Alen Marcina, first assistant coach, and Juan Lamadrid, goalkeeper coach. “We’ve got a lot of work to do before our first NASL home game on April 15, but I’m delighted to have talented coaches like Alen and Juan helping me establish a rugged, competitive, exciting team,” Hankinson said.
The team-building process will continue in earnest this week when 140 collegians who have registered to try out will do so from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Dec. 15 and 16, at the STAR (South Texas Area Regional) Soccer Complex next to Morgan’s Wonderland, Wurzbach Parkway and Thousand Oaks Drive.
That will be followed by the San Antonio Invitation-Only Combine in which invitees from previous tryouts in Arizona, Maryland and San Antonio will compete for roster spots. The combine will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, and from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 18. It will feature four teams of prospects, one of those teams comprised of players from San Antonio.
“To the best of our knowledge, this marks the first time in history that a professional sports team has been organized solely for the benefit of a non-profit cause,” said Michael Hitchcock, Scorpions president. “The Scorpions will compete for a community that’s eager to see soccer played at a high level and for Morgan’s Wonderland, a unique theme park designed with special-needs individuals of all ages in mind and built so everyone can have fun together.”
Harmse, 27, was born in South Africa and grew up in Canada. After stellar performances in youth soccer competition, he began his professional career in the Norwegian Premier League in 2003. He joined the Vancouver Whitecaps the following year and became a cornerstone of the team’s defense. He made his MLS debut in 2007 with Los Angeles and later played for Toronto FC before returning to Vancouver earlier this year.
Internationally, Harmse played on the Canadian U-20 team that made it to the quarterfinals of the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship. He has also played on the senior Canadian national team and has so far competed in three FIFA World Cup qualification matches.
Also 27, Janicki grew up in Rochester, Mich., and played collegiate soccer for Michigan State University. He was named as a second-team member of the NSCAA/adidas All-Great Lakes Region Team and to the All-Big Ten First Team. During his college years, he also played in the United Soccer League (USL) Premier Development League for both the Michigan Bucks and the West Michigan Edge.
Janicki signed his first professional contact in 2008, played in the USL Second Division for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and later agreed to a developmental contract with D. C. United. He signed with the Vancouver Whitecaps in December 2009 and the following year earned USSF D-2 Pro League Defender of the Year and USSF D-2 Pro League Best XI honors.
Marcina, founder and owner of Perform ALLOUT, has in-depth knowledge of the NASL, strong player relationships and organizational development experience. He has trained thousands of youth soccer players from the select- team to the national-team level. This includes collegiate All-Americans, MLS, NASL, European League, National Team and World Cup players.
As a player, he was a three-time All-American and played professionally for eight years in six different countries – Greece, Denmark, Germany, Australia, Canada and the U. S. This includes four successful years in the NASL, formerly known as the USL, First Division, for six different clubs – Montreal Impact, Vancouver Whitecaps, Puerto Rico Islanders, Minnesota Thunder and Miami FC. As a former All-League selection, Marcina scored 13 goals in his best season, which was third best in the league behind Brazilian legend Romario. That same year, Marcina received a call-up to the full Canadian National Team.
Lamadrid, a former professional goalkeeper for 10 years, played his entire career in Mexico for Soles de Hermosillo, Coras del Tepic, Zacatepec, Tampico Madero and Chivas Rayadas de Guadalajara. Knowledgeable and experienced at all coaching levels, he is currently on the staff of Perform ALLOUT and is the Trinity University of San Antonio goalkeeper coach for both men’s and women’s teams.
Other experience includes assistant coach for Los Angeles Valley College, trainer for CD Chivas USA San Bernardino Academy, founder of the Valley Youth Soccer Academy and scout for USA Youth National Teams. Lamadrid’s individual achievements include developing youth players for professional play with teams such Chivas Guadalajara, Tijuana FC and Pachuca. At the youth level, he won five international championships and finished second in the 2008 Copa Chivas International in Guadalajara.
San Antonio philanthropist Gordon Hartman led the effort to create Morgan’s Wonderland in Northeast San Antonio so people of all ages with and without disabilities could come together in a safe, colorful, totally-wheelchair-accessible park for fun and understanding. Now wrapping up its second year of operation, Morgan’s Wonderland features more than 25 rides, playscapes and attractions spread out over 25 acres in what once was a limestone quarry.
Because anyone with a physical or cognitive special need is admitted free to Morgan’s Wonderland, Hartman sought other revenue streams to help the park meet its financial obligations as well as to expand programs and services at the park for the special-needs community. Morgan’s Wonderland opened in spring 2010 along with STAR Soccer, which conveys profits from the operation of 13 first-class playing fields to the theme park. Similarly, Scorpions profits will go directly to Morgan’s Wonderland.
Sensing an opportunity to benefit Morgan’s Wonderland for the long run, Hartman last fall secured an NASL franchise – one rung below MLS – and immediately launched Soccer for a Cause, a campaign to build community support for the new team. This included a name-the-team contest, a logo-design competition and an online vote of fans to select the Scorpions’ jersey. Meanwhile, Nike became the first to sign up as a team sponsor.
Hartman also is moving forward with plans for a privately funded, 6,200-seat playing facility (that can be expanded to 18,000 seats) on land near STAR Soccer and ready for the 2013 season. In the interim, the Scorpions will play 2012 NASL home games in North East Independent School District’s 11,000-seat Heroes Stadium across Thousand Oaks Drive from Morgan’s Wonderland.
Hartman reiterated several key goals for the Scorpions including heightening interest in soccer, promoting physical fitness and boosting tourism, in addition to the primary goal of generating profits for Morgan’s Wonderland.
“Morgan’s Wonderland continues to exceed expectations, profoundly touching the lives of special-needs children and adults, their families and friends,” Hartman said. “Thus far, we’ve welcomed more than 200,000 guests from all 50 states and more than 30 other countries. This level of activity requires substantial financial support in order to attract more guests and provide more services and programs to the special-needs community at no charge.
“Each and every day we continue to draw inspiration from all those with special needs who must deal with hard-to-imagine physical and cognitive challenges.”
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