CHARLOTTE – Spencer Lueders is known for founding the 24 Hours of Booty charity cycling and walking event, which along with 24 Foundation’s other events, has raised more than $22 million to impact the lives of those affected by cancer.
But the lifelong soccer player always had a dream of playing at the professional level.
“I’ve known Spencer for years through his work with 24 Foundation and other community initiatives,” said Casey Carr, Stumptown Athletic president and general manager. “And while I knew he played in college at South Carolina, I didn’t know until recently that he dreamed of playing at the professional level.”
Lueders realized part of that dream Aug. 29 when he signed a one-day contract with Stumptown Athletic, the Charlotte area’s new professional soccer club. He participated in the team’s tryouts in early August.
“I started playing soccer when I was 4 years old and have played for my entire life,” Lueders said. “I love great soccer and I’m excited about a new professional team coming to the area, especially with its focus on developing young players and investing in the local community. I couldn’t pass up the chance to try out for a pro team.”
Stumptown Athletic held the official signing ceremony at Freedom Park. Lueders signed the contract and received the team’s first official jersey.
Although Lueders participated in a tough round of tryouts, he realized taking the pro field as a seasoned adult may not be the best idea. After talking with Stumptown Athletic’s coach and other players, he announced plans to immediately retire and join the organization as its community ambassador.
“It’s been a great run, and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved over my pro career,” he said with a laugh. “But it’s time to step down and focus on other priorities.”
Although Lueders signed the pro contract, he didn’t expect to also take the field with the team.
“Now that you’re on the team, I’m putting you to work,” head coach Mark Steffens said. “You’ll be a pro player for a few more hours, because you’re playing in our scrimmage Friday night.”
Carr said he understood Lueders’ decision to retire from pro play and was happy to keep him on the team as the community ambassador.
“While we’ve spent time talking about the game, we’ve also spent a lot of time talking about the impact we could have together. This is an incredible opportunity for Stumptown Athletic and our local community.”
Lueders donated his one-day salary to the 24 Foundation. Carr surprised him by adding an immediate donation from Stumptown Athletic in Lueders’ name.
Stumptown Athletic will also donate 5% of all tickets sold for its inaugural fall season to the 24 Foundation.
Upcoming home games
Sept. 28: Miami FC, 7 p.m., CSA OrthoCarolina Soccer Complex
Oct. 5: Philadelphia Fury, 7 p.m., CSA OrthoCarolina Soccer Complex
Oct. 12: Chattanooga FC, 7 p.m., CSA OrthoCarolina Soccer Complex
Oct. 25: Atlanta SC, 7 p.m.; Matthews Sportsplex
Visit www.stumptownathletic.com/ for details.