South Georgia Tormenta FC walked away from the 2016 Premier Development League awards last season with the title of ‘Best New Franchise’. A second year of competition has only served to brighten Tormenta’s shining star as the organization picked up multiple additional honors earlier this month at the 2017 awards, held in Tampa, Fla.
Highlighting the club’s recognition was a first place 'Golden Scarf' award for the league's best game day promotion. Also adding to Tormenta's award haul was team owner Darin Van Tassell being named a finalist for the PDL’s Executive of the Year and the club finishing as a runner-up for both game day photography and promotional videos.
“It’s a testament to the people who work hard for us every day and the quality of the work they do,” Van Tassell said. “The competition is so good and there are so many talented franchises pushing for this recognition. It’s something we’re very proud of.”
Van Tassell noted that — while just a second year franchise — pretty much everyone in the room knew exactly what Tormenta has been up to. With imitation being the most sincere form of flattery, it comes as no surprise that many clubs are adopting promotional angles and techniques that have spurred on Tormenta’s quick rise.
For a franchise that has enjoyed success on the scoreboard and in the attendance numbers, the challenge is expected and welcomed.
“It’s humbling for people to say they’re modeling what we’re doing,” Van Tassell said. “That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to keep pushing ahead. We’re competitive with everything we do, whether it’s a game day or whether we’re trying to build the best fan base and community support.”
That support has been evident in Tormenta’s first two seasons and the announcement of the building of a proposed new stadium, along with a jump up to the third division of American professional soccer set to open up shop in 2019.
Local interest seemed to be piqued in the club’s inaugural season two years ago and the fusion of Tormenta and the former Storm Soccer Academy out of Savannah — now sharing the name of its parent club — has quickly expanded the franchise’s sphere of influence.
“I think we have a few advantages,” Van Tassell said. “Being a university town helps in that there are people used to coming out to support a team. There are some clubs in major league cities that have to compete against a lot of different teams and activities for people’s attention and for media exposure.
“At the same time, Savannah is a big and vibrant city that is in our footprint. We want to call both Statesboro and Savannah our home and we’re striving to make both places — as well as the surrounding counties — part of the Tormenta family.”