By Jimmy Carlton Sportswriter Published Sep 05, 2017 at 7:02 PM

In 1968, six local couples decided to launch a small youth soccer organization called the Milwaukee Kickers. Today, a half-century later, the Milwaukee Kickers has grown to become one of the largest and most respected youth soccer clubs in the country, and during the Fall 2017-Spring 2018 season, it will be celebrating 50 positive years.

The Milwaukee Kickers Soccer Club, a nonprofit organization headquartered at Uihlein Soccer Park, 7101 W. Good Hope Rd., serves as a unifying force in the community that strives to enrich the lives of area youth and adults by offering the opportunity for everyone to play the sport – regardless of age, ability, gender, race or socioeconomic status. The club now boasts more than 6,600 members, ages 3-18, through recreational and select teams across 14 regions in southeastern Wisconsin, who annually use Kickers to learn, play and develop a lifelong passion for the game.

"It’s amazing and humbling to think about the thousands of players our club has left a lasting and unforgettable impression on, and the many individuals impacted by their involvement in our organization," Aleks Nikolic, one of the founding members of the Milwaukee Kickers, said in a statement.

The six founding couples were (pictured below, left to right): Louise and Lew Dray, Carol and Lorenzo Draghicchio, Helga and Aleks Nikolic, Dorothy and Frank Kral, Irene and Milan Nikolic, and Elfriede and Sirous Samy.

The club’s success and longevity are thanks in large part to a dedicated and supportive group of parents, volunteers, donors and sponsors, as well as the players and coaches, according to Alvaro Garcia-Velez, Milwaukee Kickers Soccer Club’s executive director.

"This milestone in our club’s history is due to a team of committed individuals who collaborated on future-driven, long-range ideas and the execution of them that transformed vision into reality," Garcia-Velez said Tuesday. "Fifty years is an amazing accomplishment, and we will spend this special season proudly commemorating the golden anniversary of one of the first and top-rated youth soccer organizations in the country."

To celebrate, MKSC and America SCORES Milwaukee, an affiliated local outreach program, will be highlighting the club’s benchmarks throughout the 2017-18 season with a series of special events and fundraisers that reflect its community-focused foundation and mission.

"As we look toward the next 50 years," Garcia-Velez said, "the club is poised to evolve and grow as a result of six couples’ initial passion and ongoing persistence to uphold a soccer tradition, and give soccer a permanent home in our community."

For more information on the Milwaukee Kickers Soccer Club, click here.

Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.

After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.

Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.