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The Playbook

Lucas Shanks moved to New York after his soccer career ended, but he wasn’t done with soccer.

After college and a stint in the USL reserves, he moved to the city to start a professional life. His first task, though, was to find a team.

“I knew there would be a soccer scene here,” Shanks said. "It’s a city of people from all over the world, so moving here I knew I was going to find something.”

Shanks worked his connections from his college soccer days and got hooked up with the Cosmopolitan League, the top amateur league in the city. After some failed attempts to catch on through the league’s free agency board, he called the league office. The lady there gave him the contact information for the newly-promoted clubs, thinking that would be his best shot. And it was. Before he knew it, Shanks became a regular on the Manhattan Kickers.

“I feel like that’s the way it kind of works here,” Shanks said about the soccer scene, but it could just as easily have been about New York in general. “It’s either semi-word-of-mouth if you know people, otherwise it’s kind of forge your own way.”

Shanks relies on his years growing up in Minnesota to carry him through outdoor training sessions in the winter. He’s never had a gym membership, first because he couldn’t afford one and now because he doesn’t need one.

He learned how to turn an ordinary playground into a fitness facility from his dad, a “fit and athletic guy” but also “a pretty thrifty dude. He’d always say that all you need is a bar to get a full workout.” Unless there’s snow dumping in droves, he loves getting outside even in the biting cold.

It can be hard to find the motivation for solo runs when the thermometer drops below freezing, but soccer forces Shanks to get outside when putting in lonely miles might be a slog. He knows there will be a dozen other guys out there with him.

As he got more involved with the soccer scene, Shanks grew bored with his work at an ad agency. Inspired by the energy among the Bowery League where many players also work in creative fields, he started a monthly newsletter called Tens Club, the number 10 shirt being a sign of the most creative player on the team. Tens Club goes out on the 10th day of every month, each with a different theme capturing the unique aesthetic of a certain soccer player or club, plus a product that matches that feel.

After two years of Tens Club and ten years in New York, Shanks sounds like he’s feeling older. The players in the Bowery League are getting better and the visits to the playgrounds for bar workouts less frequent. Nevertheless, he’s only just getting into a rhythm with the newsletter and doesn’t think his Kicker days are numbered. He’s always looking forward to next season.

Lucas Shanks runs Tens Club, a group of soccer creators and conspirators based in New York City.

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