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  • Photos by Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Plex South is large enough that it offers 11-on-11 soccer during the winter, including the Girls Soccer Showcase on Feb. 17, an event that was livestreamed. The livestreamed events allow college coaches to see more players.

  • Kenzie Spodnik, with Cleveland Internationals 00/99, looks to send the ball upfield during the Girls Soccer Showcase at the Plex South on Feb. 17.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Exterior of the building during the Girls Soccer Showcase at The Plex South on Saturday February 17, 2018.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Cleveland Internationals 00/99 face off aginast the Three Lions United 99G Yellow during the Girls Soccer Showcase at The Plex South on Saturday February 17, 2018.

Sunday, February 25, 2018 1:00 am

Year-round playground

Softball, soccer players, others find home at Plex South

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

For any sort of field sport, the winter means any playing surface is either frozen, covered in snow or flooded.

Enter the Plex South.

The facility provides one of the best indoor sports facilities in the Midwest, providing a sizable playing surface for 11-on-11 soccer, softball, baseball, ultimate Frisbee, flag football and whatever other sport athletes typically play on outdoor fields.

“Obviously we're in the midst of the winter events,” general manager Nick Potter said. “We have close to about 12 to 14 major events in both (north and south) facilities. The Plex South focuses more on the (National Softball Association) and (Slow-pitch Softball Association) events, which starts in November and goes through March.”

Plex officials have worked with the NSA for over a decade, and players earn World Series points for softball at the nationally ranked events.

In addition to softball throughout the winter, the Plex facilities also offer soccer showcases for college recruiting for the region.

“What's really attractive about those events, not only being able to play full-size soccer. There are not many places you can play full-size soccer in the region,” Potter said. “What we've done, you can actually livestream the games. We have a company that comes in and people can watch online. It gives an opportunity for colleges across the country.”

Before livestreaming, Potter said, colleges within a 2- or 3-hour radius of Fort Wayne would send coaches to the events, usually 30 to 40 coaches. Now, about 150 coaches watch.

“That's a huge benefit for some of the kids,” Potter said.

The South facility also plays host to preseason college baseball events.

“The second week of spring break, we do a college invitational, and we've been doing that about four years,” Potter said. “We bring in local colleges like IPFW and Huntington and Saint Francis, Indiana Tech, we also bring in 16 to 18 other colleges, and they use that as their spring preparation. Our focus was to bring in area teams. Spring weather is always questionable.”

In addition, the Plex offers soccer league options, from leagues that include former professional and college players to leagues that include older players who didn't play either in college or the pros.

“We have different levels of soccer teams, A-division, ex-pros, ex-college or C-level, which is over 30 or 40 guys,” Potter said. “We have different levels of that. Programs from 5 years old to over 50 that you can be involved in.

“We can put together a house team, and obviously we have different lengths of leagues,” Potter said. “We do soccer and flag football all year round.

“We're blessed that we have the indoor environment and outdoor, which is different than other facilities. There are very few that can say that they're benefiting the north and south side and with that elements, they can truly participate year round. Introducing other sports.”

For those with small children, the Plex offers parent-child classes for soccer and flag football.

“They get educated, they get introduced to the game (of soccer). We have the same kind of thing for football,” Potter said. “Five and under is always engaged with a parent. Child and parent relationship involved into a program, which we think is important. There is such a 'sponge age.' They soak up things.

“They're more engaged with the parent. I have kids, and it's very go-go-go type mentality, and we create an opportunity (for parents) to engage with their child.”

For a full schedule of events and leagues and for more information, go to PlexSports.com.

For more information on Fort Wayne United soccer club, go to FortWayneUnitedFC.com.

areichel@jg.net