“To provide periodic amateur athletic competitive programs and cultural events that recognize and celebrate the history and traditions in the sport of soccer as well as other charitable educational and athletic purposes which encourage exercise and physical activity through the sport of soccer, especially amongst youth, so as to promote healthy lifestyles and help combat childhood obesity.”
It all started fourteen years ago when Terry Stefankiewicz, “Stanks,” was watching the NIT basketball tournament on television. Terry thought to himself that it was time for college soccer to have the same type of event. He picked up the phone and called his ex-coach who happened to the be legendary six-time national championship winning coach of the Indiana Hoosiers, Jerry Yeagley. Jerry agreed with the premise but didn’t have the time to put the event together, however, he promised Terry that if he were to do it that the Hoosiers would participate. The following week Terry started to make his dream a reality by calling other coach acquaintances at national powerhouses such as as Duke, Rutgers, South Carolina, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and St. Louis. In a week’s time the field was set - not one school turned down the offer. Now that the teams had committed, the difficult task of fundraising for university guarantees, officials, insurance and much more was the next step. Terry's fundraising efforts were successful and the event became known as the Soccer Showcase.
What began as a local dream has now become a nationally known phenomenon: the National Soccer Festival. What started as a simple event has turned into a hands-on community supported soccer festival. In order to ensure the success and longevity of this event the National Soccer Festival reached out to the community, and the response was extraordinary. Barnes and Thornburg volunteered many hours to obtain a very difficult to achieve non for profit status. The Fort Wayne Sport Club and their hard working volunteers diligently provided the National Soccer Festival a facility worthy of Division I standards. The backbone of the Festival are volunteers who donate hundreds of hours of their time to bring this event to fruition. The beneficiaries of the event are the city of Fort Wayne and its national recognition it receives, the youth for the hands on interaction with the major universities and their players, the local business people (i.e., hotels, gas stations, restaurants, etc), the three major universities in Fort Wayne, and families who know nothing about the game but love to have fun in a family oriented atmosphere, and, of course, soccer fans who are treated to top level college soccer!
The National Soccer Festival has evolved into a true festival including youth clinics put on by major universities, golf outings, a wide range of live entertainment, opportunities for youth involvement, food vendors, tailgating parties, giveaway prizes, and, for the 21 and older crowd, beer tents. Starting in 2010 a spring event was added, featuring in-state rivals Notre Dame vs. Indiana University. In the spring, Division I soccer programs are only allowed to play other universities on five different days, all of which contribute to their spring record. Fort Wayne was treated to one of the five allowable playing dates from IU and Notre Dame. For the first time ever Fort Wayne’s Parkview Field (baseball park) was transformed to a soccer field in order to allow spectators to watch as Notre Dame and IU battled it out through double overtime and a game deciding shoot out.
The National Soccer Festival is honored every year to bring in teams that are top ranked in the country. Due to the great history of the event, the National Soccer Festival has been recognized nationally as the premier collegiate soccer event!