Starting in May, a new metro Atlanta women’s professional soccer team, the Georgia Impact, will be competing in the largest women’s soccer league in the world, the WPSL (Women’s Premier Soccer League). Many players are current college soccer players who participate in the WPSL as a means to keep their skills sharp and stay in good physical condition. (Current or potential college players are not paid, in order to stay in accordance with college soccer eligibility requirements.)
The WPSL is made up of more than 135 teams from 35 states. The Georgia Impact will compete in the Southeast division, along with Alabama FC, Chattanooga FC, Nashville Rhythm FC, North Alabama SC and TN Force FC. The team will play five home matches this year at the Cherokee High School stadium, aka Tommy Baker Field. (For more information on the team, visit www.gaimpactwpsl.com.) Georgia Impact is partnering with the city of Canton, Northside Hospital and Cherokee High School, among others. The team is planning game-day events at Reformation Brewery. And, before game time, fans will be encouraged to walk across the soon-to-be completed trail from The Mill on Etowah to Cherokee High School. The team also is considering pregame events at the new Harmon Park.
Georgia Impact has a long history of supporting youth soccer in Cherokee County. Shane Moore, executive director of Cherokee Soccer Association and CEO of Georgia Impact WPSL, said: “We recently celebrated our organization’s 50th anniversary and are looking forward to launching another great program for the north Atlanta community. Our organization, along with many key partners, are excited to bring the WPSL to Canton. The Georgia Impact WPSL team will help promote soccer and be a fun family activity for our community. It will also serve to empower women by giving them a chance to play the game they love at the next level.”
The WPSL serves as a feeder league for the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League — the top division for women’s professional soccer). In the most recent college draft for admission into the NWSL, 190 players were selected, and 85 of those players were WPSL alumni. Tryouts for the Georgia Impact WPSL team were held Jan. 7 for females ages 17 and older at Cherokee High School. From that event, Georgia Impact identified the players to include on the 2023 team roster. Among the players drafted are several that have made commitments to play Division 1 soccer at universities throughout the U.S.
The National Premier Soccer League, the WPSL’s counterpart for men’s players, expanded into the area last year with Apotheos FC, which played its games at North Cobb Christian School in Kennesaw. Georgia Impact hopes to bring a men’s team to Cherokee County in the near future.
– Shawn Tolan has served on Canton’s City Council since January 2020. He focuses on matters related to housing. He and his wife, Shari, have two adult children and three grandsons.