1970's-United Commercial Travelers (UCT) recreational soccer program was initiated by Jim Roemke, it was a league organized primarily to allow kids a place to play soccer. Kids of different age groups could be placed on the same team, for example one parent remembers that his 7 and 12-year-old kids were allowed to play on the same team.
In 1976, Terry Stefankiewicz, Ken Watson, and Klemons, intending to give everyone a chance to play soccer, formed the Pepsi League as a recreational league. The first President of the League was Doris Dalman, and as a rec league everyone got to play in 1/2 the games. The first spring games were played at Jefferson Middle School on the east side, and Homestead High School on the west side. It began with 250 kids during the first season, and initially games were only played in spring. Each year Pepsi provided t-shirts that read Dr. Pepper or Pepsi on it, along with some minor monetary funding. In 1980, the Pepsi League changed to a spring AND fall format, and added both indoor soccer and a summer camp to their format.
During the years between 1976 and 1983, two additional leagues formed within Allen County – St. Joe Soccer League and Fort Wayne Girls Soccer League. St. Joe was designed to provide coed recreational soccer and originated by Jim Byers for play in the NE side of town and began playing at Concordia Seminary and was sanctioned by SAY in the early years. The FWGS was initially set up to provide both recreational and travel soccer for girls only.
In 1982, it was felt that a more competitive environment was needed to prepare players for the high school game. It was suggested that the Pepsi League utilize a tryout system for a separate division, the first tryouts were held at Canterbury Middle School on a Saturday with Greg Mauch and John Bierbaum as player evaluators. Pretty good morning turnout, and very small turnout in the afternoon – only ½ a dozen or so turned out in the later session. The decision was made that everyone who “tried out” made a teams, which defeated the original design plan. The program went ahead, but it only lasted one season, which didn't’t work out as well as everyone had hoped.
In 1983, the Fort Wayne Youth Select Soccer League was formed to provide for slightly higher competition levels, led by John Bierbaum and a group of assistants. The goal of the league was centered on city soccer and providing a better environment for players in preparing for high school play. The club was widely called the McDonalds League, mainly because McDonalds provided a $2,000 contribution yearly from their advertising budget. Most in the community saw this as a natural addition to the soccer environment in town rather than a competitor to Pepsi and/or St. Joe. The first season, McDonald’s put together a tournament team to play in the White River Games (later known as the Hoosier Games). League play began that fall, with both a City and Travel division.
In 1984, discussions began to rename the Pepsi League with the name of Three Rivers Youth Soccer Association.
In 1985, Trysa was formed to administer all of the leagues that chose to become a member of the organization. Its main goal at the time was to provide for administrators of all of the different leagues, and to enhance the purchasing power of all of the groups who chose to join it. It was hoped that all of the soccer organizations would join, and everyone (Pepsi League, Fort Wayne Girls League, Huntertown, FWYSSL, & UCT) except the St. Joe Soccer League did join). FWYSSL left after only one year since they felt that the umbrella organization duplicated what they were doing on their own and the purchasing power never really became a reality.
During the initial years, the TRYSA organization provided many services to the members under its umbrella. TRYSA arranged with the schools and parks to maintain the soccer fields and provide for the goals (a practice they still do well), TRYSA ran the registration process for all of the different clubs (always done by mail), and arranged for sponsorships to help defray the costs of the paid office staff. Back in those good old days, the registration fee was only $26. For that amount, players all received socks, shorts, and a jersey – and all practice and game balls were provided for free also. TRYSA ran a summer soccer camp, bringing in instructors from England and providing camp housing and facilities through Concordia Seminary. Because of the large size of TRYSA’s membership, there was a lack of certified referees available to do youth games – so TRYSA also provided for the certification and licensing of referees to alleviate the shortage. With their ability to provide several different levels of soccer within one organization, TRYSA was able to assign referees in such a way that they hoped the cream rose to the top games.
Each of the clubs who were members of TRYSA kept their own philosophies, if you wanted to be rec – fine. If you wanted to form teams through tryouts, fine. The goal was not to change the clubs, but to enhance their ability to grow. Each club was awarded a board position within TRYSA, and voting rights were based upon the number of players each club represented – obviously these numbers were closely watched so that accurate voting could take place when inevitable conflicts arose through differing agendas.
Over the years, TRYSA became the generic name for the Pepsi League after the local Pepsi distributor decided to stop funding the league; and TRYSA continued to include the FWGS league - and continues today to offer coed and girl divisions of recreational soccer under the TRYSA name. Today this program plays their games at both Hefner
Fields on the east side of Fort Wayne, and Indian Trails park on the west side of town.
During the early 1990’s, FWYSSL continued to grow with the travel division hosting 8 – 10 teams and the city division having 18 teams in four zones – including a southern zone. In the fall of 1993, a vote was taken to have a separate name for the travel division – and the name Dragon FC was chosen. That winter there was some parental dissent about the name, and in the spring of 1994 the name was changed to the current Citadel FC. During this change, the city division became known as the “Select League” under FWYSSL.
The travel side of TRYSA/FWGS (the Challengers) joined FWYSSL as part of Citadel in 1996. This was after TRYSA decided that they wanted to concentrate on their recreational side only. TRYSA had a girl’s travel division, and at the time Citadel/FWYSSL only provided travel soccer for the boys. The movement of 8 teams to Citadel was
completed, and Citadel has provided for a girls division ever since.
Today, Citadel FC has developed into twenty teams, both boys and girls, that compete at the highest levels which includes MRL, ISL, GIRLS, CISL and NISL. In 2009, recognizing the importance of these teams, the organization was redesigned in an effort to streamline the responsibilities focusing on specific areas to provide players with the
best overall opportunities for growth. As a result, Citadel FC contains four Directors to oversee these target areas; Carlos Cruz, Director of Coaching and Development; Matt Hein, Youth Director of Coaching; Paco Castillo, Director of Coaching Boys; Jozsef Feher, Director of Coaching Girls.