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Tormenta on horizon
Local soccer team one step closer to reality
W 102815 PRO SOCCER PRESSER 01
Guests at Wednesday's press conference at the Bishop Field House take notice as owner and president Darin Van Tassell reveals "Tormenta" as the name of his new pro soccer franchise. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
Nearly three months ago it was announced that a new Premier Development League franchise was scheduled to begin play in Statesboro for the 2016 season.
As of Wednesday afternoon, that team now has a name.
At a press conference held at Bishop Fieldhouse at Paulson Stadium, franchise owner and team president Darin VanTassell revealed the logo and colors of South Georgia Tormenta FC. The unique name, which is Spanish for storm, was voted on by community members to be the identity of the new club.
“Any new identity comes with a story,” VanTassell said. “Tormenta represents the tormenting the club will bring to its opponents and the intense force of nature the team will seek to embody.”
Suggestions for team names have been flowing in since the franchise’s announcement in August, with over 2,500 entries received on the team’s official website. In the end, Tormenta beat out five other finalists and will serve as a fitting tie-in to the relationship that the franchise will have with Savannah’s Storm Soccer Academy.
The Tormenta will be easy to spot as the newly unveiled team colors are Midnight Navy, Sky Blue, Silver and Magenta. The logo utilizes all of those colors while featuring an ibis – a bird notorious for being the last to seek shelter ahead of a storm and the first to return once a storm has passed.
“The ibis on our shield is leading a storm and is looming over all things soccer in south Georgia,” VanTassell said. “Our colors pay tribute to the storm in the sky, the storm on the ocean and the growing passion for soccer in our community.”
Before the official unveiling of the Tormenta logo and colors, several speakers were on hand to talk about the journey that the club has taken, from just an idea around a year ago to an official member of the PDL that now has its own name and identity.
State representative Jan Tankersley, Statesboro mayor Jan Moore and city councilman Phil Boyum all praised the team's leadership and ability to bring their dream to fruition. Additionally, they spoke of the impact that a minor league team will bring to Statesboro.
“With a soccer team in town, new people who might have never come to Statesboro now have a reason to,” Tankersley said. “They're going to eat, sleep, buy gas and shop here. We're becoming known as a sports tourism destination and this is a great addition.”
Mayor Moore added that she has seen grassroots success with sports in Statesboro, recalling the quick rise and immense support of Georgia Southern football.
Georgia Southern will have a prominent role with the new franchise. Aside from the Tormenta's use of Eagle Field for practices and games, there are plans for Sport Management students from the university to perform duties in the gameday and daily operations of the team.
“It will be a great opportunity for our students to get experience with a minor league organization right here in Statesboro,” Georgia Southern athletic director Tom Kleinlein said. “For so long, the community has supported Georgia Southern. This is a great way for Georgia Southern to give something back.”
The club is already growing as Wednesday's naming ceremony also included the announcement that Ben Freakley will be the team's first general manager. Freakley is a graduate of Georgia Southern and also played on the Eagles' 2000 squad. He is married to Melissa Cox, who also played for Georgia Southern.
Freakley has also served as a Georgia Southern coach, runs his own soccer camp, and holds a USSF 'A' license from the United States Soccer Federation.
“I'm looking forward to working with Darrin and so many people in the community to make Tormenta FC something we can all be very proud of,” Freakley said. “My number one job with this organization is going to be to bring in the most talented players we can for 10-12 weeks each summer.
“They're going understand that they have a responsibility to the community beyond winning games. Everyone who spoke today has talked about how great Statesboro and Bulloch County is. I want our players to know that and represent that as they compete.”
The Tormenta's inaugural season will kick off with tryouts to be held in January. Beginning in May, the club will compete in a 14-game season, with the possibility of advancing to the playoffs for the 64-team league.
In addition to seven home games – which will be played at Georgia Southern's home field – VanTassell speculated that exhibitions with foreign clubs could also be in the works.
Uniforms for the club are the next step and are projected to be released in the coming month. The PDL will hold its annual meetings in December, after which the Tormenta will be placed into a division and a schedule will take shape.
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