South Georgia Tormenta FC makes a point of consistently stating its mantra that ‘Pros Start Here’.
A second player making the move up the professional ladder in as many months is saying as much for the club as it is for the quality of players that Tormenta chose for its inaugural team last summer.
Earlier this week, Nico Rittmeyer officially joined the Charleston Battery of the United Soccer League. The Battery and Tormenta recently entered into a partnership, provided Rittmeyer, 23, a great path to move up from South Georgia’s spot in the Premier Development League to the second tier of the United States’ soccer landscape.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to get this opportunity,” Rittmeyer said. “From youth soccer, up through high school and college, I’ve always worked hard to make it to the next level. I’m really excited for the chance to take this next step with the Battery.”
For many players reaching this level of competition, the road is long and winding. Between youth clubs, collegiate play and minor league/semi-pro competition like the PDL, rising talent often bounces all around the country — and sometimes around the world — looking for a place to play.
Rittmeyer has had opportunities to play far and wide, but the Savannah native has also been lucky enough to keep his base of operations in the coastal region.
A high school career at Savannah Country Day led Rittmeyer to one season at the University of North Carolina before finishing his collegiate career at the College of Charleston. As a Cougar, Rittmeyer scored 13 goals and recorded four assists in three seasons, twice serving as his team’s captain and twice earning all-conference honors from the Colonial Athletic Association.
Rittmeyer made his way to Statesboro in the summer of 2016 as part of Tormenta’s first ever squad. He finished second on the team with three goals off of 13 shots and saw action in all but one contest.
That was enough to catch the eye of the Battery, which now brings on Rittmeyer for what will be — interestingly enough — his second stint with the organization.
“I grew up in the Battery’s youth academy,” Rittmeyer said. “Playing professional soccer has always been a dream of mine. It’s really cool to be able to come back and play for the club that I started out with as a kid.”
Rittmeyer added that he welcomes the step up in level of play and competition. Now under contract with a professional squad, his outlook remains the same, even if the stakes are a bit higher.
“It’s a little different waking up and knowing that this is a job and a career now,” Rittmeyer said. “But that doesn’t make a difference on the field. I’m still trying to compete for playing time and doing what I can to help the team whenever I’m on the field.”
As for Tormenta, it certainly appears to be making good on its mantra.
Rittmeyer’s departure for Charleston comes less than a month after James Brighton — who was the PDL’s youngest player in 2016 — was invited to participate in the developmental program for the expansion Atlanta United of Major League Soccer.
According to the Battery’s newest midfielder, the output of professional players from Tormenta is a reflection on the atmosphere of the club in general.
“Tormenta is on par with any professional club I’ve ever seen,” Rittmeyer said. “From day one last season, (team owner Darin Van Tassell) made it clear that things weren’t going to be done half-hearted.
“That went for how we trained and played. It alway went for the club and the front office and the support and resources that were pumped into the team. They definitely provided me with the support and the opportunity to make this jump to the Battery.”