BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. – The Kokomo soccer community was excited when the ownership group of the Kokomo Jackrabbits announced that it would add a soccer squad to its stable and play games in Kokomo Municipal Stadium in 2016. But after a mixed-results first year, ROC Ventures announced the Kokomo Mantis FC would take a year off from competition to reorganize and move to a new league.
“While we put the 2017 season on hold, I am happy to announce that all other aspects of the Kokomo Mantis FC will continue as preparation for 2018,” said ROC Ventures, Sports and Performance President Dan Kuenzi. “We are currently in talks with the NPSL (National Premier Soccer League) about the 2018 season at Municipal Stadium.”
The Mantis played in the Premier Development League’s Heartland Division last year, finishing 4-6-4 with quality wins over PDL powers Des Moines Menace and Chicago Fire United. But the PDL schedule proved challenging – after two home matches on May 20 and 23, the squad did not return home until mid-June, losing a lot of momentum to develop a fan-base. Then, the Mantis played three games over the Fourth of July holiday weekend when many fans were out-of-town.
Add in a long two-game, 2,200-mile round-trip through Canada and the Mantis schedule become a scheduling and financial issue.
Fortunately for soccer fans, Kuenzi said ROC Ventures is dedicated to keeping the most popular sport in the world in Kokomo and will reorganize into a different league. The group is in talks to move to the National Premier Soccer League, with plans for the Mantis to take the turf pitch in 2018 after a PDL-mandated one-year non-compete clause is complete.
For more on this story, see the Feb. 14 edition of the Sports Journal of Central Indiana