Sioux Falls, SD
A member of the Dakota Alliance Soccer Club
has signed on to play the game professionally.
This past April, Miranda Famestad
of Sioux Falls signed a contract with the club Vallens IF
in Sweden, becoming, to the best of Dakota Alliance's knowledge, the club's first pro player. The team Famestad plays for is semi-pro.
Across KELOLAND every summer, skies and fields of dreams welcome young soccer players. Of course, it's so much more than just finding a way to put the ball in the back of the net.
"I just really love what I do, and I love playing for a club, and I love my teammates," 15-year-old Dakota Alliance midfielder Anna Lockrem said.
"My team, I don't see them as my teammates, I see them as my family, 'cause we're really close, and I just, I love it," 15-year-old Dakota Alliance midfielder Chloe Lippert said.
KELOLAND News asked Lockrem and Lippert what it's like to play for a club that has now produced a professional player.
"It makes me feel like I can go beyond, and really just follow my dreams and stuff, and it's really satisfying to know that our club has produced a player like that," Lockrem said.
"To me it feels really good that I can hopefully get to that level too, knowing that they've done it before, and it just, it kind of inspires me," Lippert said.
KELOLAND News caught up with the 22-year-old Famestad on a video chat from Sweden after one of her games this week. Dan Santella
: Do you speak Swedish yet?
"Some phrases," Famestad said.
Asked how it feels to be Dakota Alliance's first pro, she downplays the distinction.
"Honestly I'm surprised because there's a lot of older girls that are super good that come out of Sioux Falls, so I'm very shocked," Famestad said.
One of her coaches with Dakota Alliance was Aric Spader, who still coaches with the club in addition to serving as an assistant coach with Augustana University's women. For him, the experience of having coached someone who is now a pro athlete highlights the quality of the environment that produced Famestad.
"I think it just speaks volumes kind of about the talent that we have here kind of in Sioux Falls," Spader said. "Sometimes South Dakota gets overlooked as talent for soccer, but I mean Miranda just really put in the time. She played as a youth when she was six, seven years old, was committed to the game, and then played at a high collegiate level, and now to see her playing professionally."
"The club really helped me a lot. I had awesome coaches," Famestad said.
"It's really kind of an honor to say I was actually able to be a part of her journey, 'cause at the end of the day, she had to put in the work, and she had to do all that. She just happened to have different coaches along the way that helped her develop," Spader said.
For Frank Gurnick, director of coaching at Dakota Alliance, Famestad is an example of what is possible.
"I would say first and foremost it's validation," Gurnick said. "We as a club strive to preach player development. We're not about super teams and about winning in the short-term. What we want is we want to instill a passion in the players that will make this a lifetime sport."
"I'm super thankful that I was blessed with that opportunity to get to play for them and get to develop under their club," Famestad said.
Back in Sioux Falls, the example of a pro player who used to play for their club resonates with the next generation.
"I want to go on to play college soccer, so it makes me feel really confident that I might be able to do that someday," 15-year-old Dakota Alliance goalkeeper Orion Stadlman said.
"I'm honestly amazed by it, 'cause not many people from South Dakota make it to that professional level, and it kind of inspires me again, 'cause I mean, she's probably worked her butt off for this, and just how hard she's worked just to get to that level," Lippert said.
Famestad does have advice for people who see her as inspirational. But judging by her answer, it's almost as if she hadn't really thought about it before.
"I would probably say that dreams can come true, and that you just have to believe in yourself and put in the work, and honestly just have fun with it," Famestad said.
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