The Midfielder
Heartland Soccer Association Newsletter
December 2020

Heartland Soccer Association 
Celebrates 40 Years of Soccer!
9161 W 133rd Street, Overland Park, KS 66213
Phone: 913-888-8768

Heartland Soccer Association is recognized as one
of the largest soccer leagues and tournament hosts in the country.
We offer recreational to premier divisions, ages U8 through U19.

Border Battle Tournament
SCHEELS Overland Park Soccer Complex & GARMIN Olathe Soccer Complex
Feb 26 - Feb 28, 2021

Registration Deadline:
February 1st, 2021

The 2021 Border Battle Soccer Tournament will be held in one of the country's finest soccer facilities, the SCHEELS Overland Park Soccer Complex, home of the 2020 USYSA National Championships and GARMIN Olathe Soccer Complex.

This tournament is well established and recognized as one of the top spring tournaments in the Midwest. It annually attracts ECNL, NPL, State and Regional Champion teams from up to 14 different States. We are anticipating another sell out event in 2021 with teams traveling from all over the Midwest!
Get certified to be a referee!
As our local soccer community grows, the need for new and experienced referees continues.  Join America's Largest Soccer League.  More details on referee meeting schedules, training and education can be found on the 

Sign Up to Become a Referee for the Spring 2021 Season.

CONTEST: Nominate a first responder or military hero. 
Thank you to Academy Sports + Outdoors 
for providing the gift cards.

WINNER: Loretta Greg Russell nominated her brother Gregory Thacker 
Both received a $50 gift card from Academy Sports + Outdoors.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the social media contest!

SCHEELS Overland Park Soccer Complex (OP)
13700 Switzer Rd Overland Park, KS 66221 Located at 135th and Switzer just south of the Blue Valley District Athletic Complex.
Click to View Field Maps and Location Details

 GARMIN Olathe Soccer Complex (OSC)
10541 S Warwick St Olathe, KS 66061
Click to View Field Maps and Location Details

Compass Minerals Sporting Fields (CMSF)
1500 N 90 St Kansas City, KS 66112
Click to View Field Maps and Location Details

 Swope Soccer Village (SSV)
6310 Lewis Road Kansas City, MO 64132
Click to View Field Maps and Location Details

 Compass Minerals National Performance Center
1913 Pinnacle Way Kansas City, KS 66111
Click to View Field Maps and Location Details

Get Your Kickin' Chicken at a Kansas or Missouri Restaurant Near You! 8 Local Locations

2019/ 2020 Tournament Numbers
(number of teams)
Border Battle '20
Heartland Spring Cup '20155
KC Champions Cup '19
Mother's Day Classic '19449
Kansas City Invitational '19282
Heartland Fall Friendlies '20
Fall Kick Off Challenge '20
Heartland Midwest Classic '20
Midwest All Boys '20
Midwest All Girls '20
Heartland Invitational Girls  '20
Heartland Invitational Boys '20
*In the last 12 months Heartland welcomed teams
 from a total of 17 states and Canada.
Concussion ImPACT Testing

Thank you to everyone for making Heartland Soccer recognized as THE LARGEST soccer league AND tournament host in the United States! Seriously, how cool is that?! We are so incredibly proud to be a part of this growing soccer community!
Heartland Soccer Association


2020 Heartland Numbers

Fall league teams '20
Spring league teams '20
League players 
Tournament teams
Tournament players 

Sand Soccer Comes to Kansas
Kansas Youth Soccer is excited to bring the opportunity for youth players to experience the game of sand soccer!  This exciting game is perfect for all levels of players to participate in during future summer months and we hope your club or team takes the time to see what programming they can offer to help improve your overall game.
Please join us in welcoming Thunder Beach KC Sand Soccer to the Kansas Youth Soccer Family as our newest League Member!
Official announcement:  CLICK HERE

Questions or interest please email at: [email protected]

This Month in History: December
Major League Soccer, the professional league in the United States currently competes 26 teams. Its founding was December 17, 1993 as part of a deal to get the United States to Host the 1994 World Cup in America. Originally it was set to have 12 teams and debut in 1995 however it was set back a year and dropped 2 teams leaving only 10 founding clubs. Columbus Crew, D.C. United, New England Revolution, Metrostars, Tampa Bay Mutiny, Colorado Rapids, Dallas Burn, Kansas City Wiz, Los Angeles Galaxy and the San Jose Clash. Out of the 10 founding clubs only 9 remain. In a television rights deal ESPN and ABC held the rights to broadcast the games. Since the original league debut the MLS has grown having its first expansion in 1998 and continue to expand with debuts of Inter Miami and Nashville SC in 2020 making the league host 28 teams. This will be its 27th year and with the continued popularity of soccer in the US it is sure to grow even more. 

Stejskal, Sam. (Feb 8, 2017). A look back at the history of MLS expansion.
 Kansas State Cup Champions & Finalist 
The 2020-2021 Fall State Cup for girls was able to take place this year in Wichita, KS at the start of November.  Here are the Kansas State Cup Champions that will representing Kansas at the Midwest Regional Championships in St. Louis, Missouri in June of 2021.  

Also some congratulations to the finalist and all the other Kansas teams that participated for having a great season during an unpredictable time.

Kansas Presidents Cup Champions & Finalist 
The 2020-2021 Fall Presidents Cup for girls was able to take place in conjunction with State cup this this year in Wichita, KS at the start of November.  Here are the Kansas Presidents Cup Champions that will representing Kansas at the Midwest Presidents Cup Championships in West Chester, Ohio in June of 2021.  
Also some congratulations to the finalist and all the other Kansas teams that participated for having a great season during an unpredictable time.

Order New Apparel Today!
HSA apparel
 Heartland Referee Meetings
2021 Dates Coming Soon!
Referees of all ages and experience levels are encouraged to attend Heartland's monthly referee meetings! Join us to learn tips and tricks for ARs and Referees, fun games, vital information, and fabulous prizes! Parents are always welcome.  

Mentors meet 6 - 6:45 pm and Referees meet 7 - 8:30 pm   
Meetings will be held at the "Steve D. Scheels" Training Center in the northwest corner of the second floor of the SCHEELS store located at:

First time checking out The Midfielder?
Executive Director Shane Hackett explains why this is a 
great tool for players, coaches and parents. 
Go behind the scenes at Children's Mercy Park! Learn about the history of Sporting KC and take a look at the Pitch, Press Box, Broadcast Booth, Locker Room & more! For more information contact Kylie Perkins at
[email protected] or 913-912-7578.
Sign the petition and show the world that Kansas City 
deserves to be a host city for the WORLD CUP!!!

Sign the Petition

Kansas City - In The Heart of It All

#KC2026 #United2026
If you have a referee, coach, club, team or player accomplishment or a photo that you would like to share please email:
 Katie Falco at [email protected] 

Jan 4
Spring 2021 online registration deadline by noon on Jan 4
Jan 7
Recreational seeding
Jan 8
Premier pre-seed & Recreational Final seed posted after 5pm
Jan 8-12
Premier seeding challenges via email deadline noon on January 12
Jan 13
Final Premier seeding posted after 5pm
Feb 12-14Dick's Sporting Goods Discount Weekend for Heartland
Feb 17Spring 2021 schedule posted after 5pm
Feb 19-21Academy Sports + Outdoors Shop Event for Heartland
Feb 26-28Border Battle Tournament / First weekend of League play
Mar 5-7Midwest College Showcase / League play
Mar 12-14League play
Mar 19-21Heartland Spring Cup / League Play
Mar 26-28League Play 
Apr 2-3League Play
Apr 4Easter No Games
Apr 9-11Dick's Sporting Goods Discount Weekend for Heartland / League Play
Apr 16-18Kansas City Champions Cup / League Play
Apr 23-25League Play
Apr 30-May 2League Play
May 7-9Midwest Mother's Day Classic / League Play
May 14-16League Play
May 21-23
Rainout Weekend
May 28-30Kansas City Invitational Tournament Sponsored by First Watch

1)  What was the biggest accomplishment in 2020?  Simply getting the fall season in for both league and tournaments was a big, big accomplishment.   We launched several new early season tournaments and had record numbers play in several of the tournaments.  

2) Does your staff get some time off during the holiday season? Yes and no. Winter league is underway, Futsal is in session and Spring Registration closes Jan 4. So, some of the office staff will get a two week break but everyone is still playing out at the complexes.  

3) What holiday traditions did your family celebrate when you were young, and do you continue any of those traditions today?  My extended family holiday has always been over Thanksgiving where family members, sometimes up to 100, travel to our family farm from across the country.  Due to the pandemic, this is the first time in 60+ years it didn't take place. We will be doing a small Christmas celebration as well. 

4) What plans do you have for the Spring 2021 season? We are partnering on the Midwest College Showcase that is designed by College Coaches for College Coaches. NCAA College Coaches are not allowed to recruit until January 1, 2021 so the coaches are working together to create this recruitment showcase and a combine. The Showcase is March 5 - 7, 2021.    For event details and registration CLICK HERE
Visit SCHEELS, your retail destination.
 Health Tip:
Snacks to Fuel and Re-Fuel Your Body
Being an athlete is practically a part time job. Think of the time you spend riding, running, lifting, doing drills, stretching, driving to and from the gym, taking extra showers and all the extra things that come along with training. Accomplishing this makes a person super busy and constantly on the go. It also requires having fuel on hand at all times to have energy for all the hard work-out sessions while on the go.  

Enter the gym bag. Think of this piece of equipment not only as a way to carry all your gear but as a cooler, lunch sack and portable pantry as well. To determine what fuel to stash in your gym bag, it's important to consider the following factors: training duration, intensity, temperature, travel time, performance goals and body composition goals. 

Suggestions for Your Gym Bag:

Pick snacks that are easy, portable and mess free. Choose ones with the right protein, carbohydrate, fiber and nutrients for your needs.
Quick carbohydrates like bananas, chews, gels, fruit pouches and sport drinks are essential for fueling energy needs when intense training lasts more an hour. 
Whole foods should be brought along whenever possible to fuel the in-between of working out, commuting and working.
Recovery is a big part of a successful workout, so make sure to bring along a powder or pre-mixed protein blend.
Electrolytes are essential for gym workouts where you sweat more due to warm, dry air. Bring a tablet, pill or drink that is low-calorie with potassium, sodium and magnesium.
Investing in portable cups, containers, utensils and ice packs will go a long way in keeping your fuel fresh and easy to eat on the go.

Gym Bag Fuel Options: 
-Bananas or other whole fruit
-Protein bars 
-Hard boiled eggs
-Gummy sports chews
-Overnight oats, grab a pre-made container or make your own jar
-Single serve cottage cheese or Greek yogurts
-Trail mix or fruit bites 
-Crackers and hummus 
-Homemade sandwiches-try hummus and avocados or almond butter and honey.

Performing your best depends on a well-fueled and nourished body. Instead of leaving your nutrition to chance, be prepared by stashing a few extra snacks in your gym bag. Always keep a non-perishable option for carbohydrate and protein packed to pull out when you need an energy boost or quick recovery option. When your workouts are longer or when you'll be away from your kitchen for long periods of time, bring a whole food mini-meal along. Making room in your gym bag or backpack for some nutritious fuel will go a long way to achieving your fitness goals.

HCA Midwest Health is the official healthcare provider for Heartland Soccer Association and we work with parents and coaches to keep athletes safe and on the field of play year round, learn more about our services at

League Awards night at the MASL All-Star Game!

Professional Women's Soccer Returns to Kansas City in 2021!

The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) announced on 
December 7th, 2020 that Kansas City has been approved as an expansion team to begin play in 2021 with a new ownership group in the area.  Local KC soccer coach Huw Williams will be the Head Coach of the teams as announced in the press release.  More details to follow but click the link below for the full press release.
The Referee Blog
Planning for the next season: The Benefits of becoming a Certified Referee....

In our last newsletter article, we shared some of the lessons 
learned from our recently completed Fall season at Heartland.  
The focus was on the life lessons that soccer provides for the 
entire soccer community.  Playing soccer is a privilege.  Heartland offers multiple levels of competition that brings out the best in 
each player and in each team.  You build on each game to get 
better inside the lines and develop skills and traits that transcend the weekly game.  These skills help us to be more effective and more productive citizens in 
our greater community - families, schools, businesses, and the country. If being 
a player and a passionate fan can create these life building values and benefits, what could becoming a certified Referee do for you?  Let us look at some of the possibilities:
  1. Understanding the game of soccer better:  What makes a fair and legal challenge for the ball?  In every Entry Level Clinic, we hear from the Referee candidates that they learned things that they never knew before the class.  What do the Laws of the Game say about specific situations?  How do you define advantage?  What does a promising attack mean?  What is the difference between careless, reckless, and excessive force?  How do you restart the game following fouls, injuries, and infractions?  Knowing the correct answers to these questions will help you understand the game from a different perspective.  It will help you understand the game of soccer better.
  2. Take advantage of your player mentality:  The most effective Referees are players and former players.  The reason why:  players and former players understand attitudes and soccer tactics and how to relate and manage player.
    1. A common thread of the positive Referee reviews that are submitted is that the Referee understood and called fouls, talked to the players, and explained their calls.  They can use their player mentality to see the game as it develops and to separate the frivolous from the match critical decisions.  Because they are thinking like the players, they are many times in a better position to see the next play developing and to get in an effective position to see the contact.
    2. A common thread of the less positive Referee reviews that are submitted is that the Referee either called too many fouls (every contact was determined to be a foul) or more likely, that they didn't call any fouls.  On top of that, the less effective Referees are seen as non-approachable.  If you ask them a question, they are prone to card you for dissent.  
  3. Develop your management skills:  Managing 14 or 18 or 22 players at a time with competing goals (scoring or stopping the other team from scoring) requires maturity and yes, management skills.  When you add in the coaches and the fans the opportunity to grow these skills becomes even more apparent.  You get the enforce the rules (Laws of the Game), work in partnership with teammates (the Assistant Referees), manage time and substitutions and report the results.  Many of our young Referees have used their experience as a Referee as a part of their resume as they apply for college or for jobs.  And these experiences are valued by employers and schools.  
  4. Build your work ethic and your confidence in a leadership role:  The #1 fear for many people is public speaking (I know this was true for me as a teenager).  When you put on the Referee's uniform and pick up the whistle you are building your confidence in ways that can impact your future.  Every Referee is nervous when they do their first match.  If you talk to them after the first half, they will universally say that the experience was much better than they thought it would be.  They are accepting responsibility and developing leadership skills.  Being tired and making that run with the attack late in the game because you know that is what is expected of you is building a work ethic for today and for the future.  
New officials report that their #1 challenge is making a decision.  They want to make the right decision and want to be confident in their decisions.  How do you teach confidence?  The only way I know is to educate them in what their job is, to mentor them as they execute in this new job and to give them the opportunity to make mistakes.  You put these  together and becoming a Referee is truly an opportunity to build life skills.

There is more.  You get to be around the game you love.  You get to learn more about the game.  You build management and leadership skills.  You execute on a work ethic.  And, at the same time you get exercise and earn good money.  Truly this is a win/win experience.

Our response to Covid-19 meant that our classes this fall had fewer students.  When the vaccine is available, and life gets back to "normal" there will be more players and more teams.  More Referees will be required to support the Spring season.  Please consider how becoming a soccer Referee could be a smart move on your part.  Please check out the available classes at the  Kansas Referee website .
We hope you will decide to join us and keep the Heartland Soccer Association at the top of the list for local soccer.  Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Coaches Corner
Keep Away With Defenders In Zones
This drill is ideal to help players work on keeping possession of the ball with a minimal amount of pressure. It is also helpful to encourage movement on offense.

Set Up
Set up a square grid with four zones. Assign one defender to each of the four zones. The offensive team assigns a player to each of the side lines and two players to the middle. This game can also be done with three or four players in the middle.

How It Works
The offensive team has two minutes to complete as many consecutive passes as possible. Defenders may only defend in their own zone. After two minutes rotate players so that there are new defenders.

Coaching Points
The offensive team should be able to find space because there is only one defender in each zone. An offensive player can enter a zone on one side and draw a defender towards them which creates space for a teammate elsewhere in the zone.

Q&A with Nikita

When did you start reffing? November 2019
What made you decide to get certified to referee? I love soccer and always wanted to see the game through the viewpoint of a Ref
What is your favorite part about reffing? As a player it gets me to see the angle of a referee and I can learn more about the game of soccer as a ref. I also enjoy building some financial savings. 
What is a life lesson you feel you have learned from reffing? Even if people disagree with you about the call, you have to make the right decision. 
When did you start reffing futsal? December 2019
What is your favorite part about reffing futsal? The speed of play and creativity of players. 
What level of referee to you aspire to be? My dream is to ref FIFA games. I know it will require a lot of development and work. So, probably it is a long shot:) 
Do you play soccer? Yes, I play soccer for Toca 06 MLS and I also play on  JV soccer team at  Olathe Northwest High School.
How long have you played soccer? I have played soccer for almost 10 years.
Do you participate in any sports/activities? Soccer, Basketball, and I do community service with my club TOCA. I also support a peer from Kenya.  
What was the last book you read? I recently finished  "The Book Thief." Great book about a little girl who loved books and even saved one from a Nazi bonfire. My favorite part - when she read books to children and parents during bombing to keep everyone calm.  Sadly everyone she had loved died in that book.
What types of movies do you like? I like thriller and action movies. The last movie I saw was" Into the Wild." It was about a guy who left everything he knew to live a life of adventure.
What is your favorite sports team? The Kansas City Chiefs. They always show up and play strong.

Thank you Nikita for taking the time for our Q&A and congratulations!
Referee Corner:  
Understanding the role of the Assistant Referee

Each match at Heartland is managed by a team of certified officials:  1 Center Referee and 2 Assistant Referees (AR's).  They are called Assistant Referees because their role (job) is to assist the Center Referee manage the match.  The Laws of the Game outline the primary responsibilities of the AR, which include:
  • Determine when the ball leaves the field of play and what the proper restart should be (throw-in, goal kick, corner kick or kick off)
  • Determine when someone should be penalized for and offside infraction and notify the Center Referee
  • Notify the Center Referee of substitution requests
What does an AR have to do to be able to perform these responsibilities?  We will look at the Kansas peer mentoring checklist as our road map for understanding the role of the Assistant Referee.

Appearance:  As a member of the officiating team, the Assistant Referees should come to the field wearing the proper uniform (if you are going to be a member of the team, you need to look the part).  The Referees should wear the proper uniform (current shirt, black shorts, black socks black shoes and have a badge for the current year).

Getting to the goal line:  The first responsibility listed in the Laws of the Game is to determine when the ball leaves the field of play and to indicate the proper restart.  When the ball goes over the goal line, we expect the AR's to be at the goal line if possible.  When they are in position, they will have the best angle to make the correct determination.  As the players get older, this becomes a bigger challenge.  When you see a young AR running to the goal line you know they are working hard to deliver on their job responsibilities.

Keeping in line with the second last defender:  We have written many articles reviewing Offside.  As we all know, Offside is defined as being closer to the goal line than the second last defender or the ball, whichever is closer to the goal line at the time the ball is last touched or played by a team mate and then being involved with or interfering with the play or a player.  

You would think this should be a no brainer.  It is not.  Defenders switch positions making it more challenging to keep track of who the second last defender is.  Defenders and attackers are moving which makes it a less clear picture.  The AR also needs to keep track of the touchline for throw-in decisions.  In a slow match AR's may become more interested in the play around the ball and lose track of the second last defender, and then be out of position when the ball is played and they are required to make a decision.  

It takes concentration and effort to be in the right position throughout the match.  When the AR does everything they are supposed to do and when they recognize an offside infraction and raise their flag and the Center Referee blows the whistle, we have a job correctly done.  However, many AR's tell us that when they do their job they then have to endure the passion of the fans.  Making a decision and standing your ground is the making of an adult right in front of you.

Making the proper signals:  What did the AR see?  Signals are how they communicate this information to the Referee and to the players.  A part of the certification process is reviewing the proper signals.

You can easily recognize a proficient AR by their focus on the second last defender, their hustling to be at the goal line to make goal line decisions and by their professional signals.  Every Referee has been an AR and when they go into the middle they know the value of the AR to the game.

Yes, some of our AR's are more proficient that others.  They are all working on executing the skills that will make them better.  We thank you in advance for giving them the encouragement to keep working so that the soccer experience at Heartland remains the "best in the Midwest".

See you in the Spring.  And, if you get certified this winter, we look forward to your contributing to the continuous improvement of our officials.

We want your photos!

Heartland Soccer Association is seeking action photo shots of kids of all ages and abilities playing soccer in Heartland League Games or Tournaments.  Submitted photos may be included in Heartland Tournament, League and other promotional materials as well as social media posts.

Instructions for submitting photos:
All submitted photo files must be .jpg format, must be a minimum of 1,200 x 1,600 pixels, and no larger than 2 MB in size.  Submitting a photo doesn't guarantee that it will be used.
By submitting a photo for consideration for use in Heartland Soccer Association promotional materials, you agree that:
1.  You are the sole author of the photograph and control all rights for its use.  The photograph is original.  You have the rights to grant usage of the photograph as stated below.  There has been no prior sale, publication or transfer of rights to the photograph. The photograph shall not contain any libelous or scandalous matter.  To the best of your knowledge, the photograph's creation, publication and use shall not infringe any copyright, right of privacy or right of publicity, or infringe or violate any right of any third party.
2.   You grant to Heartland Soccer Association all rights to use the photograph in any and all forms of media, including but not limited to electronic, digital media and print.
3.    You allow Heartland Soccer Association the right to edit, revise, adapt and crop the photo as necessary.
Send Photo submissions to: [email protected]

AB May
Academy Sports and Outdoors
AC Print
BFAME KC Entertainment
Commercial Capital
Dick's Sporting Goods
Drs. Hawks, Besler, Rogers & Stoppel
Discount Tire
First Watch
Hasty Awards
HCA Midwest Health
Jason's Deli
Jimmy John's
Kansas City Comets
Krusich Dental
Land of Paws
Levine Advertising
Menorah Medical Center
Molle Toyota
Momo Bands
Museum at Prairiefire
Overland Park Regional Medical Center
Papa John's
Raising Cane's
Rob Ellerman and 
Reece Nichols Real Estate
Research Medical Center
Salty Iguana
Security Bank
Soccer Master
Sporting Kansas City
Sporting Kansas City II
Starting Point Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics
Storage Mart
Taco Bell
The Rub Bar-B-Que
T-riffic T-shirts
Urban Air