MILWAUKEE -- Stretching back to the 1920s, a local club's legacy is still growing, and it's a winning legacy.
It could be the love of the game, or the camaraderie -- or maybe something more that keeps bringing Bret Dietz out to soccer practice with the Milwaukee Bavarian Soccer Club.
"When you step on to the grounds here, that there's something bigger than just the current team that plays. We try not to make it any bigger than it is. It's just 11 vs. 11. You spend week in and week out with, battling on the field, off the field, just going through life with, growing up with. It just means a lot. It's the guys that have been through here. I mean, we have guys who are in their 70s, 80s, 90s still coming to these games and watching, enjoying themselves," said Dietz.
The club has been going strong since 1929.
"It is something special, and it's, the culture here is unbelievable. They really do cultivate a soccer culture that develops both the athlete and really the person here," said Thomas Deslongchamps.
"You see the dates, how long it's been around. It means a lot," said Dietz.
Dietz is one of the current players who has been around for awhile, but he remembers when he started with the club.
"There was never a, 'who's this kid?' or, 'what's this kid all about?' If you come here and want to get better and be a better soccer player and better person every time you step on to the grounds, these guys, for the most part, are going to welcome you with open arms," said Dietz.
That's what they've done for the youngest player on the team, Deslongchamps, a 17-year-old goalkeeper.
"To some it would be intimidating, but I really don't see it that way. They've treated me as any other member of the team, and I like to think that I've earned their respect and age isn't really a factor for me," said Deslongchamps.
What matters to the guys on this pitch is a passion for the game, team and winning.
"I've been here seven or eight years. I could definitely count more likely the number of losses we've had just because they're so few and far between, than I can count the number of wins we've had," said Dietz.
In 2016 and 2017, the club reached the final of the Amateur National Cup, only to lose. However, in 2018, that changed, as they won the national championship in front of their home fans, building on their illustrious history.
"You talk about a club that, up until this weekend, had six national championships, so to be able to add to that, to add to the legacy of the Bavarian Soccer Club is really great for me and for our guys. It adds a star to our uniforms and to our jersey, and it leaves a legacy on a club that's been around for going on 90 years," said Patrick Hodgins.
It's what the guys put into the club that makes the championship even more special for Hodgins, the head coach.
"It's why we practice, you know, two, three times a week. It's why we practice all weekend long. It's why we put in the hours that we do, so we can call ourselves national champions," said Hodgins.
And they can call themselves part of the Bavarian Soccer Club forever.
"I plan to be around like the older guys that have stuck around, just because this club means a lot to me. Just seeing the guys out here, just, it brings a sense of youthfulness, excitement. It just kind of brings back the old memories, especially now that we've been so close over the last couple years and finally got the job done," said Dietz.
The club added another national title a week later, winning the United Premiere Soccer League National Finals in Denver. It's the eighth national championship for the club, and that means an eighth star will be added to their crest.