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The 1st year of Michigan Thunder

By Michigan Thunder, 09/11/18, 6:45AM EDT


As we head into the start of the 2018 season I wanted to send a recap of the 2017/18 season and the year that was the birth of Michigan Thunder FC.

Although it’s only been just over 1 year ago that we announced that we were changing to becoming Michigan Thunder, it honestly seems like it’s been a lot longer.

As we head into the start of the 2018 season I wanted to send a recap of the 2017/18 season and the year that was the birth of Michigan Thunder FC.

Although it’s only been just over 1 year ago that we announced that we were changing to becoming Michigan Thunder, it honestly seems like it’s been a lot longer.

Off the field, we started the year by adding Jack Phillips as the new boy's director, brought back former Dexter High School JV coach Brandon Pederson and added more coaches to our infamous academy staff. During my time back in England I went and spent time at West Ham United's academy sitting down with their academy staff to talk about training topics, how we can improve our clubs DNA, player development initiatives, our player development model and new training regimes they implement at their academy. I also spent time at Derby County, Nottingham Forest, and Toulouse FC’s academies during my time back in Europe for the continued development of our training program.

On the field we started the year off by continuing to grow as a club for the 2nd year running, improving by 5 teams including adding 4 state cup teams to our programming with the U11 boys black, U11 girls black, U13 boys black and U18 boys West Ham all taking part in state cup this year. The level of competition grew higher across the board with the club having many successes in league and tournament play winning divisions in MSDSL, WSSL, and MSPSP. The 2000  boys continued their success since returning to the club coming runners-up in MSPSP premier 1 (the states top division at the 11v11) despite scoring 40 goals in the last 6 games of the season. There were a number of teams winning their league with the U11 Boys black, U11 Girls Black, U12 Boys Black, U12 Girls Black and U13 Boys Black all winning their divisions at 9v9 and 11v11 formats.

For the 2018/19 season, we have seen a number of positive changes across the club. Paris Waller moved on having needed to take a step back for family reasons with coach Sean Myint being promoted to Academy Director in his place. Coach Kyle Karagitz also left the club having moved to Sweden to be with his Fiancé. I was delighted to announce the signing of Kyle Breitmeyer, who I had been trying to get for a number of years, came in as a replacement for Jack Phillips as Boys director. Kyle made a name for himself as a player with AFC Ann Arbor and as a coach at Lawrence Tech as well as Canton Soccer Club. We were delighted to bring on 3 new female members of staff with Cora Essenmacher, Katie Brown and Patti Darland joining the clubs coaching staff. All 3 played at the collegiate level and I feel will be great mentors and role models for all players within the club but particularly the girl's side of the program. Coach Bryce Pederson was graduated from our Academy coaching staff to our club team coaching staff having worked within our academy system for 4 years.

Another successful tryout for the club saw continued growth and continued participation which has lead to 2 age groups now having 3 teams with a number of players coming from outside of the club and graduating through our academy program. We also added a 3rd technical day of practice which allows players to get that extra session which focuses more on the technical side of the game within a group environment.

During the 2017-18 season, we had over 250 different players come through our Lil'bolts and Thunderstrikers program with nearly 50 players graduating from our academy program into the club. Due to popular demand, we added a fourth session of the year with a second program over the winter months. This falls program has just started with more players signed up and on the waitlist than ever before! This Fall alone we have 170+ players signed up for our Thunder Strikers and Lil'Bolts program through Dexter Community Ed! We also have 5 new coaches on the program which coach Sean has brought into the program.

Coming into the club 3 years ago, I came in with a plan of how to grow, develop and bring success back to the club as well as the area. Despite the plan, our success that we have had goes above and beyond what I had thought within the competitive area we find ourselves in within such a short space of time. First off we are in a soccer hotbed with around 7/8 clubs within a 10/15 radius which really restricts the market we are in compared to Lansing, where I was with the chill when there were only 2/3 clubs within the same distance. Secondly, we had a stigma that we were Dexter Soccer club, therefore we were only for people from Dexter and thirdly we were going the wrong way when I took over due to unfortunate previous issues. But the remarkable turnaround we have had and the success we have had isn’t achievable if it wasn’t for my fantastic coaching staff as well as current/previous board members. I’ve been lucky since returning to the club to have compiled a great coaching staff that truly cares about the players that they coach and have the players development at the top of their priority as to why they are coaching. I’ve been lucky to have a great President in Kurt Assenmacher who brought me back to the club, along with Sara, and lucky enough to have board members who were all volunteer but hard work and long hours into the progression of the club. There’s also a special mention that goes to you, the parents, as well who have supported me and the club throughout the past 3 years.

We are only starting to develop the Thunder name and reputation, but having spoken to a number of directors, we are making a rumble in the state. I’m looking forward to seeing the continued development of the club and players as we move forward with a long prospering future for the club.

Go Thunder!