Since 1993, the Muscatine Soccer Complex (MSC) has made the city a destination for serious soccer players at all levels of competition. With eight beautifully maintained professional quality playing fields (and more coming thanks to recent expansions), the MSC hosts numerous local and regional tournaments each year, including youth tournaments, Muscatine Soccer Club matches, and many more. For the past twenty-four years, the College Search Kickoff (CSK) invitational tournament has stood out as one of the largest of these events. “A College Showcase for high school age soccer players, boys and girls wishing to advance their game to the college level,” according to Richard Klimes, Director of Muscatine’s Parks and Recreation Department. The CSK truly highlights the best aspects of Muscatine’s soccer scene.
The CSK got started in 1996 when a soccer coach from the eastern Iowa area, Ramona Barber, came to Klimes looking for a place to showcase rising high school soccer players’ skills. He recalls, “the originator of the event came to me in 1996 and said she wanted to create a big regional event for the soccer kids to get recognized by college coaches. It was her vision to help kids further their lives and to have an opportunity to reach their dreams through the sport of soccer. She was interested in Muscatine because of the quality of the facilities and the friendliness of the community.” Eager to promote the MSC and Muscatine in general, Klimes worked with Barber to develop the tournament that grew into the CSK.
Now, twenty-four years later, the CSK has grown into one of the Midwest’s premier college scouting events. From Thursday, July 25th through Sunday, July 28th, Klimes reported that the CSK, “had sixty teams from eight different states and 163 college coaches from twelve different states. There were roughly 1,000 athletes participating and a total of roughly 3,000 to 5,000 visitors attending the four-day event.” With such impressive statistics, and visits from high profile coaching staffs, such as those at the University of Iowa, the popularity and scope of the CSK becomes apparent.
After the event, Klimes always says he gets many compliments, some from players expressing gratitude for the opportunity to showcase their skills in such an elite atmosphere, and just as many from people who love getting to come to Muscatine and experience everything the MSC has to offer. “Each year we hear an amazing amount of positive comments about the joy of playing on real grass that is of very high quality like at the Muscatine Soccer Complex,” shared Klimes.”
Always a high point of the summer for Muscatine soccer fans, the CSK has a legacy of success, built on the quality of the MSC and the welcoming nature of the local soccer community. As this event continues to connect high school players with college coaches and soccer players with everything Muscatine has to offer, it will continue to grow and keep the Muscatine soccer scene thriving well into the future.