Kevin Graving shows the jersey he wore in the Menace's inaugural season.
As our 25th season approaches, we’re introducing a series of “Where Are They Now?” features. We’ll catch up with some personalities from Menace Past, and you’re invited to email us your suggestions. Plans are in the works for an alumni event at our 2018 season finale – Saturday, July 14 at Valley Stadium.
April 17, 1994 was a momentous day for the Des Moines Menace.
On an overcast Sunday afternoon, soccer fans cheered on the Menace for the first time.
Dowling High School was the venue, the Sioux City Breeze was the opponent, and Kevin Graving scored the first goal in Menace history.
Graving, who graduated from Grand View College in 1992, was part of the Menace’s first two seasons, and he came back for one last hurrah in 1999 after starting a family. His Menace career started and ended on the right foot. Graving tallied three of the team's first six goals in 1994; he recorded a hat trick (with an assist) in his last Menace appearance, earning a spot on the Premier Development League Team of the Week. Talk about going out in style!
MENACE SOCCER: Kevin, thanks for your time. Please tell us about that first Menace goal, which was assisted by future Major League Soccer star Ezra Hendrickson. What do you remember about that goal?
KEVIN GRAVING: I remember Ezra beat a fullback to the right. He got around the defender and ripped a nice, hard shot. The ball went off the goalie’s hands and he didn’t cover it up. Ezra did the dirty work, and I put it away to put us on the scoreboard first. I was just in the right place, at the right time.
MS: What was the scene like at that first Menace game, which Sioux City won 2-1 in overtime?
KG: I remember the opening game at Dowling being amazing. I believe there were at least a thousand fans in the stands and sitting on the grass all around the field...quite a soccer crowd for 1994. Being part of that inaugural soccer event for Des Moines will always be remembered.
Graving heads the ball in a 1994 Menace home match.
MS: What are your fondest memories from your Menace days?
KG: Ultimately, I remember great teammates and great experiences! Playing with and against future MLS and U.S. National Team members was very cool. It was great to get to play with others from around the world but also to get the chance to play with guys from other local colleges you used to compete against. New friendships formed during those years that have lasted a lifetime.
I also appreciated the ability to travel to parts of the country I hadn't seen before. Playing in a "grassroots, startup" league I have great memories of some the nice and not-so-nice stadiums we played in as well as being part of other team's inaugural home openers. It was awesome to be a part of that new soccer excitement and to know we all were a part of the overall national effort to grow soccer in the United States.
MS: Catch us up. What have you been up to in recent years?
KG: I married Heidi in March of 1995, and we have had three children since the '94 season with the Menace. My son Sam will be 22, and my daughters Phoebe and Olivia will be 19 and 15. I've continued to play soccer and other sports in attempt to stay in shape. I've coached all three kids’ soccer teams and continue to coach my youngest daughter's team for Johnston Soccer Club.
I moved from Des Moines to Johnston in 2003 and have been there ever since. I currently work for DuPont Pioneer within the IT group as the Regional Service Desk Lead for North America operations. I'm coming up on nine years with them and really enjoy the work and the people I work with.
MS: What’s the impact the Menace had in your life?
KG: I've been blessed with the chance to be around great players and great coaches. There are so many experiences from that time in my life that have helped shape me into who I am today and for that, I'm very grateful. Much of the soccer technical experience I've been able to share with the youth in our community, including my own children. Being part of a high quality sports team brings so many benefits and I consider myself a lucky man to be able to have been a part of the Des Moines Menace legacy.
MS: Thanks again, Kevin, and thanks to you and Heidi for sharing some of the highlights from your Menace scrapbook!
Story posted Tuesday, April 10