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Tormenta FC hits the field
Tormenta FC players warm up between sessions during their first practice Friday. Tormenta in in its inaugural season as a Premier Development League franchise and will begin their first season next week in Johnson City, Tenn. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    Taking advantage of a picture-perfect day at the practice fields located behind The Clubhouse, Tormenta FC — the Premier Development League franchise starting up in Statesboro this summer –—held its first ever training session Friday morning.
    The creation of the club was announced last August and everything from a team name, to official colors and uniforms, to roster makeup was presented over the following months. On Friday, there was finally a full squad on the field that got straight to business in preparing for the season.
    “The energy was great today,” Tormenta coach and general manager Ben Freakley said. “Everyone came prepared and ready to be here. Everyone has gotten behind what we're trying to do and we're hitting the ground running.”
    Time is of the essence for Tormenta FC as many first introductions for teammates came during the opening minutes of Friday's practice.
    Just a week stands between Tormenta and its PDL opener — a road match at Tri-Cities (Johnson City, Tenn.) — on May 13, but class and travel schedules for the roster made up of primarily out-of-town players meant that much of the roster has only arrived in Statesboro over the last 48 hours.
    “It's a little bit of a rush, but I think it will be fine,” said center back Peyton Ericson, who just arrived from the University of South Carolina. “The important thing is that we have a lot of skilled players. I think we're all competitive and will rise to the right level to play well quickly.”
    “In a way, maybe we're a little bit ahead of the game,” Freakley said, alluding to the fact that he was recently named head coach after first being tasked with building the roster. “I've been studying and recruiting our guys for months. I'm confident in what they can do. It's a little bit of a new experience with everyone out on the field for the first time, but I know we've got good players on this team.”
    Those good players wasted no time in pressuring each other in order to prove themselves deserving of starting roles on the team.
    Following individual and position-specific drills Friday, the latter half of practice consisted of a sort of half-field drill where the squad was split into two sides and competed with each other in an aggressive and closely-packed possession drill.
    The PDL comprises plenty of talent from collegiate rosters around the nation. That also lends the league to have plenty of international flavor and Tormenta FC is no exception as several foreign players will play key roles this summer.
    “This feels a bit more like England,” said forward Kieran Roberts, a forward who has traveled across the Atlantic to Statesboro by way of Radford University. “I was preparing for the weather by getting a buzz cut and I think I only brought one jacket. It was a little chilly today, but I know that will change soon.”
    All players will still have a collegiate experience this summer as Tormenta FC has partnered with The Grove to provide player housing throughout the summer season. Training will continue into next week before the team heads off to Tennessee.
    Tormenta will host its first ever home match next week as the Carolina Dynamo come to town.

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.