July 14, 2022 at 3:00pm
Jeremy Coulter, Class of 2000

Amy Williams Schweizer’s Tiny Troops Soccer is supporting military families around the world

Amy Williams Schweizer, Class of 2004, came to Millikin as a talented athlete and strong believer in hard work. She excelled as part of Millikin’s women’s soccer team, making team captain and earning all-conference honors.

Her experiences on the field, along with the hands-on education she received as a Tabor School of Business student, gave her the tools she needed to “accomplish big things” after graduation — whether that was playing in the United Soccer Leagues for the Cincinnati Ladyhawks, or serving military families as founder and director of her current company, Tiny Troops Soccer. Prior to starting her own company, however, her path in life took an unexpected detour after a chance meeting at a job fair.

“After getting my master’s degree, I met my husband. He is a Marine, and he was on recruiting duty in Danville, Illinois. Our tables at the job fair happened to be next to each other. That kicked off a whole lifetime that I was not expecting, changing the trajectory of my career and what I thought it was going to be.”

With a master’s degree in sports management, Schweizer planned to work for a professional sports team. As a military spouse, she quickly realized that the demands of military life would complicate those career plans. Military spouses have the highest unemployment rate in the country, despite the fact that many hold advanced degrees and have wide-ranging professional experiences. This lack of “fulfilling employment” is a byproduct of military families being required to regularly relocate for deployments. Schweizer and her family, currently in North Carolina, have lived in Hawaii, California and Okinawa, Japan.

“Being a military spouse really forced me to get outside my comfort zone. It’s not the same as growing up in your hometown with the same people and the same teammates that you’ve had your whole life. You meet new people every two to three years and have to really create that community. You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable.”

Finding herself forced to adjust, like the military families around her, to living outside of her comfort zone, she put her business savvy and competitive spirit to work to find a solution that would help not only herself but her community. Stationed in Japan, she founded Tiny Troops Soccer, a developmental program for kids ages two through five that introduces them to soccer.

Schweizer’s company filled an immediate need, allowing military families to find a camaraderie and connection often missing in their day- to-day lives while also teaching children gross motor skills, socialization, communication and physical fitness. As Tiny Troops Soccer expanded across the globe, families found that this sense of community could travel — rolling registration periods allowed families to remain in the program even during a new deployment.

“When I watched my own children go through the emotions that come along with deployments, my thoughts quickly focused on how I could ease this burden for military families back on the home front, especially the young children.”

Tiny Troops Soccer has employed more than 150 military spouses and dependents while serving over 15,000 military and nonmilitary children in Japan, Guam and the United States. Schweizer also mentors fellow military spouses, encouraging and equipping them to find meaningful ways to utilize their professional skills.

As Schweizer looks to the future, her goals include expanding her soccer programming to serve every U.S. military base, while also increasing access for nonmilitary families.

“Our kids have all these emotions, but aren’t always able to articulate them. You know, ‘I’m sad because mommy’s gone,’ or ‘I’m angry because dad is so far away,’ or ‘Why doesn’t my grammy live near me anymore?’ It’s our responsibility to provide this opportunity that not only enhances their physical health, but also directly impacts them mentally and emotionally. There’s really nothing like being part of a team.”