Downing III named Wings Head Coach
Roger C. Downing III has been named the head coach for the new Wichita Wings indoor soccer team. He will assume his duties for the 40th anniversary season immediately.
“I’m excited and honored to have the opportunity to coach the Wings,” said Downing. “Ever since I’ve moved to town I have heard stories about the team and I plan on bringing that old Wings energy back to Wichita.”
Although Coach Downing has not been involved with the Wings organization in the past, the 33-year-old coach and personal trainer is already well-respected in the Wichita athletic community and most recently contributed to the success of Goddard’s Eisenhower High School Boys varsity team, since moving to Wichita with his wife Lindsey. Not only an active and successful trainer and coach, Coach Downing also has collegiate and professional action on his resume. He played college soccer with Wright State University before having the opportunity to take part in trials for professional teams in England and then returned to the states to play professional ball with the indoor teams the Cincinnati Kings, Cincinnati Saints, Dayton Dutch Lions, and the outdoor Gunners F.C.
Wings leadership recently narrowed their search to five potential coaches. All the candidates have extensive soccer backgrounds and the proper knowledge of the indoor game. The other four were retired wings players and coaches, but Coach Downing consistently stood out during the process.
“Roger’s background in both soccer and physical fitness makes this a great fit. He has a genuine passion to improve the everyday training environment and the physical process for the players, which is why they will love him,” said Shumaker
Coach Downing particularly impressed Wings leadership during the interview and he was placed in the final two. At this point, there were further interviews with the two coaches during which Shumaker and the other owners discussed tactics and philosophies.
With all things equal at this point, what made Coach Downing stand out was his demeanor, said Shumaker. He was appreciative of the opportunity to interview and was positioned to be on the staff as an assistant already and no matter what our final decision was, Coach Downing was fully supportive of the Wings team and any coach that may have been selected, he added.
“That is the type of character we wanted to find in a leader and the reason we were comfortable hiring such a young coach,” said Shumaker.
It wasn’t an easy decision for Wings leadership who were challenged with finding the right coach between Coach Downing and four retired Wings players. Despite the inclination to go with history and someone already a part of the Wings’ family, the fact that there were two former Wings serving as owners and the team already having the active support of Sammy Lane and Roy Turner, allowed leadership to feel the 40th anniversary team is steeped in enough history and they didn’t feel obligated to base the decision primarily on the qualification of previously being a Wings player, say team leaders.
Taking on a brand-new team is a challenge, however, Coach Downing is up to it. The new Wings coach is used to being an underdog and to new beginnings. He took over as head coach at Eisenhower High School in 2017 and surprised everyone by coaching his team to their best start in the school’s seven-year history, turning them into a local soccer super power.
“Coming into a start-up program with high expectations is tough, but I relish the opportunity,” said Downing.” My main goal to get started is getting everyone on the same page and having an open book policy with the players. I find if the team takes ownership in each other and a program, the rest takes care of itself.”