Tuesday, June 30, 2009

WHO WE ARE: Contender #1- The Richmond Rebels

Rob Ukrop, the coach of the Richmond Rebels, has been involved in soccer his entire life. During his soccer career Ukrop has won numerous awards and titles at both amateur and professional levels. He is arguably most famous for winning NSCAA player of the year while taking Davidson College to the final four in 1992, and for scoring the first two goals in MLS history as a member of the New England Revolution.

Rob, a Richmond native, began his soccer career as a breakout star for Collegiate School, a local Richmond prep school . He continued his soccer career at Davidson . In Ukrop's four years of eligibility he was able to bring the school soccer notoriety with his astounding play. During his senior year, Ukrop led the nation with 31 goals, and guided Davidson to
the NCAA Final Four. While still in college Ukrop went to the World University Games with the United States U-23 Team. During the games, Ukrop scored twice and had an assist in a win over Italy. In 2004, Davidson retired number 6 in honor of Ukrop and inducted him into the Davidson Hall of Fame.

After graduation, Ukrop began to play professionally. He started for the Richmond Kickers of the United States Interregional Soccer League (USISL), and helped the team make the playoffs in only their first season in 1993. Ukrop also played on the Baltimore Spirit of the National Professional Soccer League, and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the American Professional Soccer League. In 1995, Ukrop rejoined the Kickers and helped the team win a USISL title. In that season he was name an Atlantic Division All Star, and MVP of the U.S. Open Cup.

In 1996, The New England Revol
ution of the MLS drafted Ukrop 65th overall. Ukrop scored twice in his New England debut. By that summer Rob had returned to his original professional team; the Kickers. When Rob Ukrop retired from playing professionally in 2004, he held the record in Kickers all-time goals, assists, points, and matches. In 2007 Ukrop was inducted into the Richmond Kickers Hall of Fame.

To this day, Rob is actively involved in the Kickers youth program. In addition, Rob is the head coach was the Richmond Rebels Street Soccer team. The Rebels are Richmond's local Street Soccer USA affiliate and are organized through the Daily Planet. Rob was introduced to the program by Lawrence Cann, the founder of Street Soccer USA and fellow Davidson Soccer Alumni. Rob and the Rebels are part of a long list of advocates of the sport for social change intiative. They use the power of sport and teamwork to help the homeless of Richmond off the streets.

The team kicked off their second season last month and looks to take home the Street Soccer USA Cup this summer. Recently they scrimmaged against Richmond City of Central Virginia Soccer Association. For more information on the progress of the Rebels see their blog at http://richmondstreetsoccer.wordpress.com

The Street Soccer
USA Cup will be held July 31-August 2 at the Washington Kastles Stadium on H Street between 9th and 11th streets NW in Washington DC. Admission is free, so come out and see if the Rebels can take home the Leonsis Trophy and this years bragging rights.

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