The Columbus Express Soccer Club will be celebrating its 40th anniversary Feb. 17 with a formal “Remembering Our Roots” celebration at the Factory 12 Event Loft.

The celebration will be from 7 p.m. to midnight and will include Indiana Soccer Hall of Famer and former Columbus North coach Dave Green as the keynote speaker, along with a few other guest speakers. The event is being catered by Blackerby’s First Class and live entertained from The Tiptonians band.

There also will be a silent auction that includes autographed jerseys, official match balls and many other key merchandise. Tickets are $50 per person, or $40 for college students.

“It’s just an event that we felt was really important because I don’t think they’ve ever really honored the people that have put forth the effort to make this a strong organization like it has been for 40 years,” CESC director of coaching Ty Smith said.

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Smith has been the director of coaching for 11 months but has been connected to CESC since he was a child. One thing for which Smith praises the club is allowing opportunities for kids outside the Columbus area to come together to form a diverse group of athletes from all backgrounds.

The club has 300 members from ages 6 to 19, and Smith remembers having up to five different nationalities on one team a few years ago.

“To be in an area where we are, and to have that type of mix culturally within the group, it’s been pretty cool to see and to work with” Smith said. “Kids that come from Spain, or kids from Argentina or Mexico, American kids or kids that grew up around the Japanese side of things, to have that in our town for a local club is pretty cool.”

Smith said there are many clubs over the years that have either merged or fell apart, but the Express has maintained a strong representation which has allowed it to stay around for so long.

“For us to be around for 40 years says a lot about the type of people that are involved in the club, from the board level to the coaches and the players and the families,” Smith said. “I think it says a lot about the community, given the support that has been given to the club throughout those 40 years.”

Some of the goals Smith has for the club as it continues to grow is to have more teams that win the State Cup and do well at the regional level. He also would like to start turning out more kids who go on to play soccer in college.

Smith definitely has a few future milestones in mind for the club, but come February, he will be enjoying the celebration of what already has been accomplished in the past 40 years.

“It’s just very rare to see something that has been going for that long, especially with the landscape of youth sports these days,” Smith said.

If you go

What: Remembering our Roots: Celebrating 40 Years of Columbus Express Soccer Club

When: 7 p.m. to midnight Feb. 17

Where: Factory 12 Event Loft; 1235 Jackson Street

Price: $50 per adult, or $40 for college students

Dress code: Formal

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Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5632.