For the first time in history, women’s soccer will be played Saturday night at the Mercy Health Arena—formerly the LC Walker Arena, as the Muskegon Risers, the city’s first ever semi-professional women’s soccer team takes the field.
The team derives its name “The Risers” from the iconic Muskegon: Together Rising sculpture that sits in the heart of the city’s downtown corridor, and chosen to also represent the city’s recent resurgence and revitalization.
Matthew Schmitt is the team’s owner. He says he’s proud that young girls growing up in Muskegon will now have female athletes to look up to and cheer on.
“This is more than the game of soccer,” Schmitt said. “The organization was founded to help facilitate positive social and economic change along the Muskegon lakeshore, through the game of soccer. Soccer is our medium, its our creative medium. To inspire girls in the community, (and) to facilitate the positive values of Muskegon, it’s hard to quantify.”
And Schmitt said, the historical gravity of the moment is not lost on the players either.
“They just naturally have a very keen understanding of what the significance of this game holds.”
The game starts at 7:15 PM this Saturday at the Mercy Health Arena, where the Muskegon Risers will take on Muskegon Community College’s Jayhawks. The game is just an exhibition. The Muskegon Risers regular season begins this summer in the United Women’s Soccer League.