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Tormenta FC on track to be something special
Tormenta FC crest

About two and-a-half years ago, I was sweating out another brutal Statesboro summer day. With Georgia Southern and local high schools out of action and most rec leagues avoiding the heat, the life of a Statesboro Herald sports writer can enter vacation mode while waiting out the worst of the tropical conditions.

And then I got a call from Darin Van Tassell.

    We had bumped into each other before. I was a student in his International Studies class when I attended Georgia Southern and — as we’re both baseball fans — I always looked forward to comparing thoughts about the Eagles when our paths crossed at J.I. Clements Stadium each spring.

    When he told me he was starting up a semi-pro soccer team, I wasn’t sure what to think.

    Soccer hadn’t been my thing since I was five years old and it was the only sport I was allowed to sign up for. I spent a few years making fun of it as I grew up and got into baseball and football. Over the last decade, I grew to appreciate the intensity of World Cups and proudly graduated from the ranks of people criticizing the sport for its lack of high scoring, even if I was still wary of paying attention to ‘the beautiful game’ on a full-time basis.

    But it was still hard to wrap my mind around a summer league soccer team in Statesboro, made up mostly of college players who had never been within 100 miles of Statesboro.

    I decided to dive into support and coverage of Tormenta FC - if for no other reason than that there was nothing else to do. Two years later, I’m convinced that the 2,000-ish fans in attendance each night and my own eagerness to get to the game early aren’t still due to that ‘nothing else to do’ attitude.

In just two years of competition, Tormenta FC seems to have perfectly threaded the needle, winding its way into the consciousness of the Statesboro sports fan’s annual calendar. Sure, the timing of Tormenta’s games has allowed it to duck the task of competing against fans who would have to choose between soccer and a day of football, basketball or baseball. But it also had to reckon with the ‘summer vacation’ portion of the sports year while also trying to sell a new flavor of sports passion to Statesboro.

Coming out on the other side has been two summers full of rowdy summer nights at Erk Russell Park.

The team has done its part on the field, notching winning records in both seasons. And the front office has done its part, supplying the squad with top-notch coaching, training and accommodations in order to put its best foot forward.

That has led to the fans doing their part.

In just two years, Tormenta has become a gold standard for other franchises in the Premier Development League. That reputation was also a big factor in Tormenta being targeted by the USL as a charter member for the upcoming USL Division III league in which Tormenta will serve as a founding member.

What seemed like a decent way to pass the time during the summer a couple of years ago has quickly grown into a team and an event that will become the place to be during soccer season moving forward.

Beyond that, Tormenta’s quick success is about to give back to Statesboro. Instead of borrowing space on Georgia Southern’s campus to host games, Tormenta is now storming towards a stadium of its own and, with it, a complex that will bring more retail business and attention to town.

I would say that these developments are almost too good to be true, but I decided to follow Tormenta ever since that first phone call, back in the summer of 2015.

That got me on board, and I think that there will soon be about 5,000 Tormenta fans in a brand new stadium who share my opinion.