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St. Joe Kickers Sports Club Celebrates 70 Years

Ph: 269 429 1057 Arden, MI The public is invited to St. Joe Kickers Sports Club’s 70th anniversary celebration on November 4, 2023. Enjoy traditional German fayre and Tommy Schober and the Sorgenbrecher Band. Doors open at 6pm. The band plays from 7-11pm. Members are free while guests are $25. All attendees need reservations for the roulade dinner and champagne toast. Reservations are due November 1. Please mail RSVP checks to: PO Box 336 St. Jospeh, MI 49085 and include the names of those for whom you are paying. You can also register online: St. Joe Kickers - 70th Anniversary Dinner ( SJK was founded in 1953 when newly arrived German immigrants, lonely in their new country, met to play soccer at Kiwanis Park in St. Joseph. Soccer balls, goal posts, nets and imported jerseys were purchased through the generosity of players and the St. Joe Kickers Soccer Club was formed. Soon dances and meetings were held at the St. Joseph American Legion Hall as fundraisers for the team. By 1955 the Kickers soccer team joined the highly competitive National Soccer League of Illinois, and travelled to Chicago when they were not playing their home games at St. Joseph High School’s Dickinson Stadium. In 1958 the Kickers moved their home matches to Colony Park at the House of David in Benton Harbor and fielded both senior and reserve teams. In 1959 the senior team moved into the First Division of the National Soccer League due to their outstanding record. After previously playing in the House of David’s baseball park, the club built a soccer-only field there in 1965. In an effort to expand membership, the English language was adopted as the official language of the Club in 1968, which was followed by the incorporation of the club as the St. Joe Kickers Sports Club. Prior to that, all business had been conducted in German. In the same year, an eight-acre building site located in Arden, Royalton Township, was purchased. Money was raised through bazaars, donations, and the sale of bonds. By 1970 the main building was under construction. Many devoted and hard-working members donated numerous hours to the project and the longawaited grand opening was celebrated on May 15, 1971. The new facilities included a dance hall, club room, kitchen, locker rooms, and two regulation soccer fields. In 1973 an additional 10 acres was purchased and by 1977 Oktoberfests were held in the newly erected 100′ x 100′ activity hall, which had been built primarily for off-season soccer practice. During the 1970’s the Kickers saw tremendous growth in soccer and club membership. The club fielded six teams: an Old-Timers team, a senior and reserve team, and three youth teams. The senior team won five Western Michigan Soccer League championships and placed second in the state of Michigan in 1980. This success continued into the 80’s, with the senior team capturing four Michiana Soccer Association titles, while the Old-Timers won five Veterans’ championships and set an MSA record by winning 55 straight games. SJK was an original member of the Blossomland Soccer League in 2004 and have captured four Premier and three Second Division championships. In 2010 the indoor facility was doubled in size and play began on the new turf. The indoor league has grown to host over 200 teams each winter, while outdoor soccer has expanded to four well-manicured fields with irrigation. In recent years the Kickers have also purchased an additional dozen acres with plans to develop practice fields in the near future. The club, which began with eight individuals, currently consists of 315 adult members and their children. The one remaining original member, Ernst Oelke, will be in attendance for the celebration.

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