SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — We are just over three months out from the June 3 first home game for Sioux Falls City FC (SFCFC) and the new Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) team is beginning the process of filling out its roster, announcing the signing of its first three players this week.

Hailee Fischer, Taylor Thomas and Josie Arduser were announced Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, and follow a slew of announcements in recent weeks including coaching staff, playing venue and team colors.

“Who wouldn’t want to be back home,” exclaimed Thomas, who is away at college in Ohio. Thomas previously moved to Missouri in order to continue advancing through the world of soccer. “It’s kind of a dream,” she said of the prospect of coming home to play in Sioux Falls.

All three women have ties to the Sioux Falls community.

Fischer grew up in Hartford and played soccer with Dakota Alliance in Sioux Falls, and is currently competing at South Dakota State University. Thomas, the daughter of team co-owners Emily and Eric Thomas, is from Sioux Falls, played with Dakota Alliance, and is playing at the University of Dayton in Ohio. Arduser, originally from Lincoln, NE, plays at Augustana University in Sioux Falls.

“I’ve always wanted there to be a WPSL team in Sioux Falls,” said Fischer, the first player signed by the team. She says that when rumors of SFCFC began circulating, her coach at SDSU began reaching out to staff on the new team. “From there, [SFCFC’s] technical director Joe DeMay got in touch with me, and he really sold the idea of their core values to me.”

Fischer repeated those core values in her next statement. “Having purpose, integrity and authenticity in everything you do in life is really important,” she said.

A senior at SDSU, Fischer has two years of eligibility left in collegiate soccer due to a pair of setbacks. “My career here (at SDSU) hasn’t always been what I expected it to be. I had two major injuries so far while I’ve been here,” she said. Those injuries comprised of a torn right ACL in 2019, and a torn left ACL and meniscus in March 2021.

Fischer has battled back from those injuries, and says they taught her about what goes into being an athlete beyond playing the game. “Those injuries have taught me a lot,” she said.

Despite growing up just outside of Sioux Falls in Hartford, Fischer says the city definitely has a hometown feel for her. “Sioux Falls is where I played my first ever soccer game,” she said, smiling at the memory. “It’s where I practiced growing up; it’s where I did so many things — Sioux Falls was definitely home for me.”

The idea of playing in front of a home crowd this summer means a lot to Fischer, and also to Thomas, the second player signed by the team.

“Crazy” is how Thomas envisions playing before a hometown crowd this summer. “I have not done it, so it’s going to be really exciting!”

Only a freshman in college, Thomas displays big dreams in discussing what the opportunity to play in the WPSL means for her. “I don’t want to take a break during my off-season,” she said. “I just want to keep moving up — I personally have aspirations to play after college is done.”

Thomas feels that the goals and attitude of SFCFC match her aspirations.

“For me, it’s just always been a dream of mine since I was younger, to like play pro. I don’t really know what that looks like — if I got a chance to be a pro here in the U.S., that would be amazing. If I got the chance to go overseas and live there a few years, that would be like insane. Just keeping all the doors open,” said Thomas.

Beyond the hometown draw, Thomas also credits technical director Joe DeMay with recruiting her for the team, telling us that he had coached her in the past, and talked her into joining the team.

Thomas never thought there would be a chance to play on a WPSL team in her hometown. “Growing up I definitely did not think it was possible, and I think a lot of that came from just what older people were telling a young girl — that where you’re from, the type of people you’re surrounded with –kind of just putting this ceiling on Sioux Falls and kind of the state in general,” she said.

Going into the first season for the SFCFC, Thomas has a simple message for those people who told her this couldn’t happen.

“Their past assumptions were wrong, and we are a team to be reckoned with.”

Both Thomas and Fischer are excited about the level of competition that the WPSL brings, each saying that it is similar to the level of play at the collegiate level. “Depending on the league it could be more, because obviously, girls who are out of college can play — and if girls come from playing other semi-pro or pro teams — the level could be really high,” said Thomas. “It’s definitely not a step down from college — if anything I would say it’s a step up.”

“When you think of teams that are in the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League), they have teams that are reserve — their reserve players play in the WPSL, so this is a really big deal actually — it’s a high level of competition across the whole U.S.,” explained Fischer.

Athletes that played in the WPSL have gone on to play for the Women’s U.S. National Team, the NWSL, the Olympics and the FIFA Women’s World Cup, including now-household names such as Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach, Megan Rapinoe, Julie Foudy, and Brandi Chastain.

Arduser, the third player announced by the team, could not speak with KELOLAND News Wednesday but communicated her enthusiasm over text message.

I’m super excited about the opportunity to play for SFCFC! I think it’s another great opportunity to develop as a player and a person. Soccer has always been a big part of my life, so to see the level continue to increase is really exciting!

Josie Arduser

The Sioux Falls City FC plays in the Northern Conference of the WPSL with 8 other regional teams from Minnesota and North Dakota.