UPSL Lifts Milwaukee Bavarian SC Onto National Scene
The latest UPSL feature by SoccerToday highlights Milwaukee Bavarian SC, 2018 Spring League Champions, of the Midwest Conference.
The UPSL is an affordable option for youth clubs that hope to expand their player development structure. Milwaukee Bavarian SC is taking advantage of the UPSL’s assistance in order to provide its players with national exposure as well as experience at the amateur level.
UPSL Soccer News: In our latest United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) feature, SoccerToday highlights a long-standing club in American soccer from Wisconsin.
With 90 years of soccer history, Milwaukee Bavarian SC is coming off a successful year with two titles added to its trophy case. The club was crowned 2018 United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) Amateur Cup and 2018 UPSL Spring Season champions.
Originally founded as FC Bayern by German immigrants in 1929, the club rebranded to Bavarian Soccer Club in the 1970s. As immigration from Europe became less frequent, the club adjusted to the American soccer landscape. Although there are now fewer Germans at the club, Bavarian SC continues to honor its roots.
“It’s awesome when you are around that long and have success,” said Tom Zaiss, Adult Director of Milwaukee Bavarian SC. “Every generation has done a great job at keeping the tradition.”
Zaiss, the son of German immigrants, grew up in New York City and moved to Milwaukee in the 1980s. In 1991, Zaiss returned to play for the Bavarian SC men’s team following his collegiate career at the University of Connecticut (UConn). As the years went by, he took on the role of player-coach and then full-time coach in 2001. In 2005, Zaiss was named Adult Director of Milwaukee Bavarian SC.
Evolution of Milwaukee Bavarian SC
Bavarian SC has evolved with the growth of American soccer and now consists of a complete player development model. In addition to the UPSL squad, Bavarian SC fields boys and girls teams from the U8 to U19 level. At the youth level, the Milwaukee club develops players that go on to have successful collegiate careers.
For many players, the relationship with the club stops following their youth careers. However, many others return to Bavarian SC in order to compete at the adult level or to coach the next generation.
“It’s great to see them grow from infancy to adulthood,” said Zaiss. “We have a lot of former youth players that coach here. It’s great to see it go full circle.”
Zaiss highlights Danny Jarosz, who played with Bavarian SC from the U8 to U19 level, as an example. Jarosz was recruited to play at Marquette University and returned to the club as a coach following his collegiate career.
Five years ago, Bavarian SC expanded its men’s program to include an amateur team that competes at the national level. The club now has a development model that incorporates players from the U16-18 teams into its adult program. Youth players not only gain experience playing with current and former collegiate athletes, but they are also exposed to the dedication required at the next level.
Patrick Hodgins, head coach of the UPSL team, praises the support and guidance that the club provides to its youth players.
“There is infrastructure that puts us ahead of other clubs,” said Hodgins. “From a training perspective, we want to give kids the best opportunity to be pushed and continue their development.”
For a youth club that wishes to expand its player development model, the UPSL is an accommodating partnership that provides national exposure.
“We were looking to get more exposure on the national level,” said Zaiss. “The UPSL offered that for us.”
In addition to the affordable entry cost, the UPSL relieves financial constraints by connecting its teams with sponsors that provide discounted uniforms and travel accommodations.
“Each team gets a certain allotment of discounted gear from sponsors,” said Hodgins. “These are huge expenses for clubs. The UPSL helps you to get in contact with companies in order to make that process a little easier.”
One distinction that separates the UPSL from other amateur leagues is the adoption of promotion-relegation. The UPSL has received praise for this model as it outlines a clear path for clubs to reach the next level.
“I think it’s great,” said Hodgins. “Personally, I think the more opportunities you get to play strong competition the better off you are as a club. In California, it is working really well. It’s a path for clubs to get to the next level. It’s very clear what you need to do to advance.”
Although the UPSL has implemented promotion-relegation in California, where the league originated, the league has not reached a point in the Midwest where such a model could be sustained.
Zaiss claims that the decision to join the UPSL was not based on the promotion-relegation model. However, Zaiss does acknowledge how the UPSL restructures player development by including the amateur level, which has been difficult for state associations to incorporate.
“I think some state associations have now fallen behind,” said Zaiss. “That’s where the UPSL has come in and taken over their roles so to speak.”
The Road Ahead for Milwaukee Bavarian SC
After a successful run in 2018, Milwaukee Bavarian SC (UPSL) is now preparing for the upcoming 2019 UPSL Spring Season as well as the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Although the winter months in Wisconsin have delayed a regular training schedule, Bavarian SC is eager to be back on the pitch. Milwaukee Bavarian SC has an experienced squad that Hodgins and Zaiss praise for their dedication. As is expected at the amateur level, many Bavarian SC players sacrifice their professional work and family life in order to remain on the pitch. Despite these obligations, the UPSL players have lifted the team to success, which does not go unacknowledged at the club.
“Our players are the backbone of our success,” said Hodgins. “They are the reason we have accomplished what we have these past three years. I am always for giving the credit to my players because they are the ones that deserve it.”
The 2019 UPSL Spring Season kicks off in May with Bavarian SC returning to the Central Division of the Midwest Conference. In addition to UPSL competition, Hodgins is looking forward to testing the club’s quality at the U.S. Open Cup.
“We have proven ourselves within our region and nationally as an amateur side,” said Hodgins. “We have done very well. Now we want to prove ourselves against the next perceived level of play. That’s the good thing about the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. You get the opportunity to play opponents that you are not able to play regularly. It’s something that we look forward to.”
Bavarian SC is also set to host the seventh edition of the Hank Steinbrecher Cup at the Bavarian Soccer Complex in Glendale, Wisconsin. The tournament between amateur champions from across the United States will be held from May 31st to June 1st. The 2019 edition will include the US Adult Soccer Amateur Cup Champion (Milwaukee Bavarian SC), the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) Champion (FC Motown), the USL League Two Champion (Reading United AC) and the reigning Steinbrecher Cup Champions (Flint City Bucks).
“We look forward to hosting and hopefully a successful year,” said Zaiss.