Local standouts working with Iowa Raptors in women’s inaugural season

Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 11:10 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Fresh off a state championship appearance with the Prairie boys soccer team, Hawks head coach Curt Lewis is now spending his summer with the Iowa Raptors.

“I started my coaching career coaching college women, so as I’m getting a little older now towards the end of my career, I thought it was the time to be able to try something new and different as well,” he said.

For the past month, Lewis has pulled doubled duty, but he’s now heading the Raptors in their inaugural season. The team competes in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL).

“I just love the game. I love to be around it, love the competition and I love the game planning,” said Lewis.

The Raptors feature collegiate players from all over and includes a few locals who tried out for the team for different reasons.

“Just looking for a chance to play against some higher level players,” said Linn-Mar graduate and Drake University sophomore Hallie Peak. “It gives me a chance to stay in shape and work on my fitness and skills over the summer while I was home.”

“I really wanted to get more experience on the field, coming off an injury,” said Cedar Rapids Kennedy graduate and Iowa sophomore Delaney Holtey. “ I just thought it would be really great to get to start off the program this year.”

Some players even returned following their exhibition season.

“Having that exhibition and being able to play with the team, instead of just doing training on my own, was huge coming for a summer,” explained Cedar Rapids Prairie graduate and Western Illinois junior Bailey Burlingham.

In addition to being able to play close to home, the Raptors provide an opportunity for players to train in the summer and be in a competitive environment. Most soccer clubs don’t have leagues for players after graduating high school.

“It’s been different to get thrown into playing with a bunch of different people,” said Peak. “It’s a challenge to kind of work together and find your own style of playing together, but I think that will really help me when I go back to Drake this fall.”

“It’s much more beneficial to have a team that we’re training with and getting our fitness in and chemistry. Being able to learn from all different styles of players, that are coming from so many different teams,” added Burlington.

The Raptors allow players to continue to improve on aspects of their game.

“I’ve just really been focusing on my shooting and also building up my endurance, so that I’m ready to play in the fall,” said Peak.

“I think just getting back some confidence on the ball and getting back to the chemistry with some of my teammates,” said Holtey. “Some tactical work, overall fitness and just enjoying playing the game.”

“My team at Western Illinois is a lot different. The style we play and the coaching. So to have a well-rounded kind of experience, has been good and has really built me up as a player,” added Burlingham.

The players hope it translates to the field with their college teams in the fall.

“It’s great competition which I think helps them over the summer develop and get ready to compete because when they go to college, they’re competing for spots,” said Lewis.

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