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Tormenta keeps on growing
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Tormenta FC owner Darin Van Tassell, right, and general manager Ben Freakley announce new franchise initiatives during a press conference at The Clubhouse Wendesday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

     Throughout the inaugural season of South Georgia Tormenta FC soccer, visiting teams and Premier Development League officials commented on how the new franchise’s facilities and infrastructure was already surpassing those of established and successful clubs.
    That may be true, but Tormenta isn’t about to take a break just because it’s the offseason.
    On Wednesday afternoon at The Clubhouse, team owner/president Darin VanTassell and team head coach/general manager Ben Freakley made several announcements that will ensure the club’s second season is an even bigger operation than the first.
    “My car broke down on the way here. It’s outside and still running since I’m afraid it won’t start back up if I turn it off,” Freakley said. “It’s kind of like Darin. Always running. Always going. He’s never afraid to keep pushing and keep investing in this organization.”
    In fact, all of the hustling has caused a growth spurt for Tormenta.
    “It’s only been a year, but we’ve already outgrown our current home,” Van Tassell said of the team’s current offices located inside of the Clubhouse. “We’re having to move out to give us the space we need.”
    Tormenta’s offices will be moving, but won’t be leaving the property. The pro shop at Hacker’s is being repurposed as the new team headquarters for all front office personnel.
    The club also released information about the Ibis Foundation. The program aims to further the efforts that Tormenta — as well as partner and youth program Storm Soccer Academy — has already set in motion.
    Through various fundraising efforts, the Ibis Foundation promote the game of soccer and work to provide accessible resources for players to train, learn and improve their skills.
    “We’ve already seen what this kind of support can do,” Freakley said. “We have young kids who will now have access to great training and coaching. There are older kids involved who will also benefit.”
    Freakley singled out one teenager who will become the first member of his family to go to college as he attends Mercer University on a full athletic scholarship.
    “It has — at the same time — everything and nothing to do with soccer,” Freakley said. “We want to use the game to enrich young people’s lives. Sooner or later, Statesboro is going to produce someone who really makes it big in this sport, and that’s what we’re trying to help with right now.”
    One of the initial fundraisers for the foundation kicks off in mid-November as Tormenta hosts the Ibis Cup. The event will be a two-day tournament pitting teams in 6-v-6 competition. A $2,000 cash prize will be awarded to the tournament champion, with other proceeds benefitting the Ibis Foundation.
    Wednesday’s press conference also kicked off ticket sales season for the team’s 2017 campaign. Three different tiers of season ticket ownership are up for sale and special discounted prices will be in effect until Dec. 1.
    South Georgia Tormenta burst onto the PDL scene last season as one of four expansion teams in the 68-team league comprised mostly of collegiate players looking for professional recognition during the summer months.
    Tormenta ripped off an impressive winning streak in the middle of the season, including wins over the Charlotte Eagles and the Carolina Dynamo — both of which spent the entire season at the top of the national rankings. In the end, Tormenta fell just two points shy of making the playoffs and qualigying for the Open Cup, which gives PDL teams a chance to compete against clubs situated farther up on the American league hierarchy.
    Prospective players will get their first crack at joining Tormenta FC in December when the team holds the first of four tryout sessions.
    “It is, largely, wide open,” Freakley said of next season’s roster makeup. “There are a lot of guys we’d love to have back, but there is also room for us to bring in more talent. We were lucky enough to have 20 different schools that trusted us with their players this past summer. Hopefully, we made a good impression and will continue to get the word out that Statesboro is a place to come for soccer.”
    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.