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Enjoy The Ride: a Retrospective on the 2015 Signing Class

As I reflect on the 2015 college signing class for Grand Rapids Crew Juniors, I am excited for the players, parents, coaches, and the club. All of these parties played a role in the success of these athletes and all have a lot to be proud of for the time, energy, and effort they put into the journey of the players.
This year's signing class began with Grand Rapids Crew Juniors in 2007 as U10 players and many of the players have been with us since day one of the club's existence. As coaches, we have had the pleasure of watching them grow on and off the field and have enjoyed every step of their development.
In looking at this class of athletes, I have realized there are many similarities in them that have played a huge role in their success and these traits will continue to help us as a club as we develop future athletes. There are many traits involved, but the four I want to focus on are Commitment, Dedication, Loyalty, and Trust. 
In discussing these traits, I will be using the four captains of our U18 boys and girls teams this year: Peter Brown (Michigan), Mouse 
Kovacs (Michigan State), Alex Prout (Bowling Green), and Jared Timmer (Butler). 
In today's world, there are many sports and activities in which kids can participate. As a parent, many people want their children to experience a variety of things but also want them to have success in what they do. At times, these two thought processes can conflict and negatively impact one another.
As a club, we know many players will play other sports and our message to them is to stay committed to soccer year-round. If you play volleyball or basketball, for example, find some time to train with a soccer ball. To be a great player and athlete, commitment is an extremely important part of development. 
Jared Timmer, who is committed to play at Butler, played basketball many winters but still found the time to train and stay committed to his sport and his team, something that was instrumental in his success.
Dedication is another important factor in development and goes hand-in-hand with commitment. Dedication to the sport, the team, and the coaching are all essential for a player if they wish to develop and be one of the top players.
Mouse Kovacs, who is Michigan State bound, is an example of a dedicated athlete. She is one that looks for training opportunities, that is dedicated to make all trainings, and commits to conditioning year-round. Very few athletes ever get to where they want to be if they are not dedicated to their sport.
In youth soccer, there are many options in programs and many times players and parents fall into the trap of thinking the grass is greener somewhere else. All of these players had the chance to play for different clubs throughout their years, yet they all remained loyal to Grand Rapids Crew Juniors and that loyalty has paid off for all involved. 
These players have been loyal to their coaches, teams, and most importantly, their teammates, and that is not always easy to do. Throughout their years with Crew, other clubs have made offers and promises and I am extremely proud that all of them remained loyal to us as a club.
Trust is another common trait in all four of our U18 captains. There are times when teams lose, events do not go as planned, and leagues do not end up being what we thought. At these times, it is easy for players to look elsewhere to meet their needs. With these players, when things went wrong, they put their trust in the club and the team. 
These players, and so many others of the 2015 signing class, have trusted the Crew staff in training, tournament choices, and league placement. This trust in the Crew staff, and their loyalty to the club, have been instrumental in the success they have achieved.
Congratulations to the Grand Rapids Crew Juniors' Class of 2015.
Best of luck to you all in the future! 


Josh Sheldon
Executive Director
Grand Rapids Crew Juniors/Midwest United FC
Midwest United FC Uniforms Unveiled

The Midwest United FC logo and kits were unveiled at the 2nd Annual Club Celebration on February 6, 2015.

The blue uniform will serve as the home/primary kit, while the white kit will be the change uniform. Both kits are manufactured by Adidas.

As with professional sides around the world, the Midwest United FC badge will be worn on the left chest and the primary club sponsor's logo is front and center. The Club is proud to wear the Meijer logo across the chest.

Sponsor logos for Midwest United FC partners Buffalo Wild Wings and Adidas also appear on the uniform.






GRCJ/Midwest United FC Highlighted on EightWest

GRCJ/Midwest United FC were featured in a segment on WOODTV's eightWest program on February 4, 2015.

Club President Craig Searer and Girls Director of Coaching Lewis Robinson were featured in a sit-down portion of the program while players Mouse Kovacs and Peter Brown participated in a more active presentation.


Click the image at left to be redirected to the featured video posted at





GR Crew Juniors to Become Midwest United FC
We are UNITED!
In 2008, Grand Rapids Crew Juniors soccer club was formed with the merging of two West Michigan soccer clubs. Grand Rapids Area Soccer Association (GRASA) joined forces with Grand Valley Premier Soccer Club (GVP/GVSC) to form Grand Rapids Crew Juniors, a newly created Columbus Crew MLS affiliation. 
The Grand Rapids Crew Juniors family has experienced tremendous growth and achieved countless successes over the last seven years at the local, state, regional and national levels. These accomplishments have been a result of hard work and a strong leadership team committed to staying competitive and at the forefront of the continually changing landscape of youth soccer.
With the changing dynamics and evolution of youth soccer, we must ensure we are taking the necessary steps to evolve in a manner which is most effective for our Club and Players. After much consideration, the decision has been made to move away from the Columbus Crew affiliation and allow OUR established brand to stand on its own merit, under a new identity including a name and logo. The GRCJ name and logo will forever be part of our rich history but it is the families, players, coaches and staff that define who we are. 
Knowing WE are the brand, we are proud to announce that beginning June 13, 2015, Grand Rapids Crew Juniors will become Midwest United Football Club. 
This decision will allow us to achieve our long term goals while continuing our "tradition of excellence". The funds used to maintain the MLS affiliation will now be used to place a larger emphasis on coaching education, increase player training opportunities, expand Club programming, improve communication and customer service. The relationship with Columbus Crew has proven beneficial yet we believe it is the relationships our staff and coaches have developed with the league officials, college coaches and state/regional/local associations that make us more than a collection of teams but rather a recognizable community of families and players.
With your support, WE WILL CONTINUE TO:
  • Work diligently to make each player as successful as possible both on and off the field.
  • Provide great experiences and opportunities for all players.
  • Develop and build confidence in all of our players.
  • Employ the best coaches to implement our established teaching philosophies.
  • Provide the best year round training facilities and curriculum.
  • Succeed with winning local, state, regional and national titles and tournaments.
  • Compete in some of the most prestigious leagues in the country.
WE are the BRAND. WE are the CLUB. WE are UNITED!
This letter is the first step in our journey to unveil the new club identity. Our new logo and color scheme will be released at our dinner celebration held on Friday, February 6 at Thousand Oaks Golf Club. Tickets and more details will become available soon so save the date! 
We will be hosting team meetings the week of November 24th to answer questions regarding the upcoming changes.  Click here to find your team's meeting date and time.  All meetings will take place at MVP Sports Spot, 3701 32nd Street SE in Kentwood.
If you have any immediate questions, please direct them to Josh Sheldon at  or  click here for the brand campaign FAQs. We will release a large majority of our updates via Facebook and website. We are excited for what the future will bring and excited to share that with you.
Thank you to our brand campaign sponsors:
GR Crew Juniors to Become Midwest United Football Club: FAQs
What is branding?
Branding is the personality that identifies a product, service or company and differentiates it from the goods of other sellers.
What is identity?
Identity is the combination of color schemes, designs, words, logo, slogan and uniforms that represent a company.
What are we changing?
As a Club, we are the brand and those elements will not change.  Our mission statement along with coaching staff, facilities we utilize and our programming will remain the same.  We will be changing our name, logo, color scheme and uniforms.
What is the Club’s new name going forward and how was it selected?
Grand Rapids Crew Juniors will now be known as Midwest United Football Club. We feel Midwest represents the athletes that participate in our program and the region in which we compete. United is a reflection of our teams, staff and board being united in our mission. GO UNITED!  
What will Grand Rapids Crew Juniors - Kentwood be called?
This decision will be made over the next couple of months and communicated to the Club.
When will the name officially change?
The name will officially change June 13, 2015. We will begin to see our new name, logo and colors following the dinner on Feb 6th.
When will the logo and uniform colors of the new identity be announced/released?
The new logo and colors will be released on February 6 at the 2nd Annual Club Celebration dinner. June 15th will be the beginning of the new two-year uniform cycle. We will have Midwest United Football Club fan wear available to order on February 6 at the dinner.
Why is Midwest United Football Club (formerly Grand Rapids Crew Juniors) implementing a new  identity?
The decision was made to move away from the Columbus Crew affiliation to allow OUR established brand to stand on its own merit. The GRCJ name and logo will forever be part of our rich history but it is the families, players, coaches and staff that define who we are. Knowing WE are the brand, we want the freedom to develop our identity based on the core values and relationships formed while continuing our “tradition of excellence”.
Why leave the MLS affiliation?
The funds used to maintain the MLS affiliation will be reinvested into Club operations to place a larger emphasis on coaching education, increase player training opportunities, expand Club programming, improve communication and customer service.  
Will we retain existing coaches and attract new coaches to our Club without the MLS affiliation?
Yes, we will retain existing coaches and will continue to develop our staff as we move forward.  It is the reputation of our existing coaches, the relationships we have formed throughout the years, and the players in our program that will continue to be the attraction to our Club.
Will I need to buy a new uniform?
Yes, a new uniform package will be required in June 2015. We are at the end of our two year uniform cycle; therefore, new uniforms would have been a requirement regardless of the logo.
Where will I see this brand campaign?
We will launch this brand campaign at our 2nd Annual Club Celebration dinner on February 6. We will continue to increase awareness of this campaign through the usage of social media, relationships with local schools, our extensive email database, relying on the resources of our Club sponsors, our GRCJ Website, monthly newsletters, photography and other visual communications. For updates, please join our mailing list, Facebook, and Twitter.
What are the costs associated with the branding campaign? Will it affect Club dues?
The cost of the brand campaign is contained within our existing marketing communication budget and offset by our campaign sponsors.  While there is no guarantee Club dues for 2015-16 won’t increase due to normal rising business and operating expenses, the brand campaign will not impact the cost of dues.  
Thank you to our branding campaign sponsors:
WIll we continue to train and play at the MVP locations and Brewer Park?
Yes, we will continue to use both locations and will work to secure additional fields when needed.
Does this impact our team league status, tournament recognition, ranking in GotSoccer, draw to colleges and player visibility during the recruitment process?
No. The rebranding will not impact any of the items listed above. In the short term, some will refer to us as Midwest United Football Club, formerly known as Grand Rapids Crew Juniors. We will quickly establish our new identity, within the soccer community, through our extensive marketing communications plan. We currently have a strong and successful college recruiting process, and will continue to use our resources to offer additional tools that will improve the process for all Midwest United Football Club players.
Will there be a negative impact for not maintaining our MLS affiliation with the Columbus Crew?
No, our Club will not be negatively impacted. With your support, WE WILL CONTINUE TO:
·         Work diligently to make each player as successful as possible both on and off the field.
·         Provide great experiences and opportunities for all players.
·         Develop and build confidence in all of our players.
·         Employ the best coaches to implement our established successful teaching philosophies.
·         Provide the best year round training facilities and curriculum.
·         Succeed with winning local, state, regional and national titles and tournaments.
·         Compete in some of the most prestigious leagues in the country.
How will updates on the branding campaign be communicated to the Club and community?
Updates will be communicated through our mailing list via Constant Contact. Please click here to join our mailing list. In addition, updates will be released through our Facebook, Instragram and Twitter accounts.
When will I be able to purchase Midwest United FC apparel?
Midwest United apparel will be available following the February 6th dinner and release of the logo and uniform. Team Gazelle will have a large offering of United apparel in March 2015 at MVP Sports Spot. Limited edition t-shirts are now available to order through the dinner registration process.
Where is the Midwest United FC office?
We are located at 3501 Lake Eastbrook Blvd, Suite 340, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
WE are the BRAND.  WE are the Club.  WE are UNITED!
Please direct all questions to Josh Sheldon at
GR Crew Juniors Partner with College Fit Finder to Enhance College Recruiting Process
Announced October 30, 2014

Exciting News! All premier players U14+ will be getting access information within the next few days from coaches. 

The Grand Rapids Crew Juniors are proud to announce a partnership with the College Fit Finder in an effort to further our progressive approach in connecting our players to the collegiate level. 

As we strive to engage players, parents, and our own staff in the recruiting process, the club is providing this robust tool to EVERY High School age player/family at NO CHARGE. 

The College Fit Finder provides our players with a competitive advantage over a typical student-athlete navigating the recruiting process. This comprehensive system allows for individuals to take ownership of their future by equipping them with tools necessary to find a home at the college level. As a club, we are committed to not only player development, but truly being a catalyst in helping our players fulfill their dreams of playing collegiate soccer and accessing higher education. The College Fit Finder will provide uniformity to the club's recruiting efforts and will allow for our coaching staff to take a much more personal approach in helping our athletes throughout the process.

Grand Rapids Crew Juniors looks forward to facilitating the recruiting efforts of every family looking to play at the next level. Features include:

1. Player Features
   a. Find schools that are a match for you based on academics, athletics, location, cost,
enrollment, major, campus setting, schools type, and/or religious setting

   b. Favorites List: Save schools to your favorites list to continuing researching

   c. Correspondence Tracking: Track and organize all of your communication with every college program

   d. Calendar: See all of your communication with all colleges in a calendar view

   e. College Calculator: Decide which school is right for you by comparing colleges side by side

   f. Branded Player Profile: Send to college coaches to review your information

2. Coach/Admin Features
   a. Online Team Website: College Coaches can view all player's individual profiles from one screen

   b. Printable Team Brochures: Push one button and create a team brochure to hand to College Coaches at your showcases

   c. Monitor Player Activity: Staff Coaches have access to see how proactive each player is being and can better facilitate a player's individual process

7th Annual GRCJ Scholarship Scramble to Benefit Player Assistance Fund

Grand Rapids Crew Juniors will holds its 7th Annual Scholarship Scramble fundraiser on Monday, September 22, 2014 at Thousand Oaks Golf Course.

All proceeds from this event benefit the Grand Rapids Crew Juniors Player Assistance Fund, a fund established to provide partial to full financial scholarships for players within our community. This scholarship fund has benefited nearly 400 players since its inception in 2008.

The event begins with check-in at noon, followed by a 1pm shotgun start and concludes with a dinner and awards ceremony that evening.

There are several ways that you can contribute to this event, from playing in the scramble to sponsoring a dinner table, hole, or even a GRCJ coach. All sponsorships are tax deductable.

Click here for a registration form and detailed list of how you can contribute to Grand Rapids Crew Juniors Player Assistance Fund.


A special thank you to our generous sponsors!!!

Players Needed To Fill Out Age Groups
Added August 15, 2014
Players are needed to round out teams at the following age groups:
To inquire about joining one of the above teams, please email Josh Sheldon at
U15-U18 Girls Gold Teams on Display at Crew College Showcase

Our Crew U15, U16, U17, and U18 Girls Gold teams at Crew Showcase on July 31 at MVP Fieldhouse.

The four teams got an early chance to play in front of a large group of college coaches as they get ready for their fall seasons.

A great event with some very talented teams.

Pass It On!
Added May 20, 2014

Jackson Collins, a player from the U13 Boys team, would like our help running a service project. 

He wants to collect old uniforms from our families and send them to kids affiliated with Peace Passers. This organization helps link people who have soccer gear to donate with groups who help carry the gear directly to impoverished communities around the world.

Our goal is to collect 60 jerseys and 40 pairs of shorts. We are looking for past seasons' uniforms as well as current uniforms that may no longer fit or be needed. So dig through your drawers and pull out those unused uniforms!

Please help Grand Rapids Crew Juniors and Jackson be successful in making a difference and sharing the love of the game and team pride! Let's work together to Pass It Forward with Peace Passers!



Look for the bins with the Peace Passers logo and drop in your uniforms!  Uniform collections will take place at:

  • Tryouts (June 14, 17, 18 at MVP Fieldhouse)
  • Select registration (June 25 at MVP Sports Spot)
  • The week of our summer camp (August 11-14 at MVP Fieldhouse).

If you have any questions about this program or would like to volunteer to help with the collection process, please email Andrea Collins at or Kristie Hollingsworth at








Scrip Program Available
Grand Rapids Crew Juniors has a Scrip program to help our families build funds for their players. This program provides non-profit groups the opportunity for families to use their shopping habits to earn money. 
Basically with the program, you order gift cards to use for your shopping needs and a rebate will be earned with each card.  These rebates will be placed in a family account to be used for your player’s costs.
If you are familiar with the Scrip program, you can go to  and set up your Crew account. You will need the Crew Enrollment Code (to obtain code, please email: You will also need to set up a PrestoPay account so that online ordering will be facilitated. Orders will be placed on Monday mornings with delivery on Wednesdays.
We have additional information on our Scrip News page.
For Questions and Crew enrollment code please contact: