Tormenta FC's 2017 Season Schedule is out!
A Tuesday afternoon press conference at The Clubhouse brought about the word that Ben Freakley would no longer be the head coach of Tormenta FC.
Hired away by the Toronto Blue Jays, Freakley will not be able to maintain his role on the sidelines, calling the shots for Statesboro's Premier Development League franchise.
But Freakley will remain the general manager of the club, and the spirit of Tuesday's announcements wasn't so much about a departing coach as it was about a franchise continuing to grow in its second season of operation.
“I remember sitting in the PDL league meeting 13 months ago,” Freakley said. “We heard the award announced for best new franchise announced. (Team owner and president) Darin Van Tassell) poked me and said 'That's going to be us next year.'”
After announcing the development of a new PDL franchise in the summer of 2015, the Tormenta front office got to work long before any players had even signed on to compete for the club. The franchise's foresight and preemptive effort led to an inaugural season that saw Tormenta average over 2,000 fans per home game as the team nearly made the PDL playoffs in its first season of competition.
Following such an impressive first look at what Statesboro could do with a minor league franchise, Van Tassell's prognostication came to fruition at the end of 2016 as Tormenta brought home the award he had dreamed of a year before.
Newly named head coach John Miglarese has yet to coach a game for Tormenta, but — through coaching a division rival last season — has a glowing review of the organization from an outsider's perspective.
“We came to the stadium the night before our game (against Tormenta) for our normal walk-through,” Miglarese said. “Walking into the stadium, a day before the game, I took notice of all of the things that were already in place for the game. It told me that this club really cared and was doing its best to create a great atmosphere.
“The quality of the conditions and operations even affected our team. When you can boost the level of awareness and play for a visiting team, you know that you're really doing something special. That's what I'm excited to be a part of this season.”
Last summer's inaugural season was successful and Freakley had been looking forward to taking the next step this season. His new obligations will prevent him from drawing up the game plan for Tormenta, but Miglarese was his first choice to succeed him as coach and has a glowing endorsement heading into 2017.
“This isn't a replacement,” Freakley said. “John Miglarese is his own person and his own brand of soccer. He has all of the qualities that we believe will continue to move Tormenta forward.”
Tuesday's press conference also brought word that Tormenta will continue to expand its front office. Whereas many PDL franchises consist of an owner, coach and a few helping hands, Tormenta has quickly proved itself to be something separate from the norm.
“Our front office couldn't function without Heidi (Jeffers) and David (Ball),” Freakley said. “We also have players that work withing our youth academy and that do a great job of reaching out to our fan base.”
During Tuesday's press conference, Van Tassell also alluded to Tormenta making a link to the next level of professional soccer in the United States.
The Charleston Battery and Jacksonville Armada field teams in the higher USL division, and are working closely with Tormenta.
“We have plans to play games with them in Savannah,” Van Tassell said. “We also have plans with those clubs in terms of tryouts. Our motto is that 'pros start here/ and it would be great if we could pave a way for some of our players to maybe play for these clubs in the future.”
Tryouts for Tormenta FC have already begun and are scheduled throughout the next month. Tormenta FC begins its second season of play in May.
South Georgia Tormenta FC burst onto the stage this past summer as Statesboro’s first minor league franchise. Tormenta nearly made the national playoffs in the Premier Development League and quickly became a star in the normally sparse summertime sports landscape of Statesboro.
The games have been done since July, but the organization hit a high point Tuesday as Tormenta FC was recognized as the best new franchise in the league at the PDL’s annual meetings in Tampa, Fla.
“I hoped our colleagues would feel as strongly about our accomplishments as we do,” Tormenta owner and president Darin Van Tassell. “There were clubs from Calgary and Oregon and San Diego recognizing what we’ve done. That’s pretty awesome to think about.”
On the field, Tormenta was extremely successful in its inaugural season. Playing in a division that featured two teams that often made the PDL’s national top-10 rankings, Tormenta finished with a 6-5-3 record and was in the running for a postseason berth until the final weekend of the season.
But the real credentials for the club’s award can trace its roots back to the summer of 2015.
From the moment it was announced that minor league soccer would be coming to Statesboro - and well before any team name or players and coaches had been announced - Tormenta’s front office was hard at work building its brand within the community.
Vice President of Franchise Development Heidi Jeffers and Director of Franchise Development David Ball have been instrumental in building the team’s brand. Because of cooperation between Tormenta’s front office staff and local businesses, the franchise was able to provide a top-notch atmosphere for its players.
Instead of living with host families, Tormenta players were accommodated in apartments where they could live and socialize as a team. Practices and workouts were offered in higher frequency than many competing PDL squads and meals were planned and provided throughout the summer instead of each player being left on their own.
Numerous social events within the community also made players available to the public and that outreach seemed to go both ways as Tormenta topped the 2,000 mark in attendance for all seven of its home games.
“This award comes in large part due to the efforts of Heidi and David,” Van Tassell said. “They’re working hard every day to build this brand. From live streaming, to coaches shows, to all of our other events, they’ve really made us a professional team with a professional environment in a short time.”
“This award also belongs to Statesboro,” Tormenta coach and general manager Ben Freakley said. “It belongs to every fan that supported us from day one. It’s for every mom and dad and grandparent that brought their kids to the games to introduce them to our team.”
The award and fast rise of Tormenta is especially inspiring to Freakley. A former player at Georgia Southern University, Freakley has also served as a coach to many local players as they have worked their way through the youth and high school ranks.
“Fifteen years ago, I wouldn’t have thought Statesboro could be the home of a soccer team with Tormenta’s success and following,” Freakley said. “But I didn’t know Darin 15 years ago. He’s done so much to make this a possibility and now we’re looking forward to continuing to build up this franchise.”
Tormenta hosted a successful 6-on-6 tournament - the ‘Ibis Cup’ - last month. Preparations for the 2017 season are already in motion in the front office. The on-field portion of things will begin on Dec. 17 when Tormenta hosts its first open tryout for the upcoming season.
The 2017 regular season is slated to kick off in early May.
GROTTAFERRATA - L’Asd Grottaferrata calcio Stefano Furlani parlerà un po’ più l’americano. Nei giorni scorsi, infatti, la società della presidentessa Claudia Furlani ha stretto un accordo di collaborazione con la società statunitense della Fc Tormenta, squadra della cittadina di Statesboro (in Georgia). A parlare del progetto è il direttore organizzativo Antonio Rizzo. «Tutto è partito da un’idea del responsabile del settore giovanile e della Scuola calcio Andrea Borsa che abbiamo voluto approfondire e che ho studiato in prima persona. Abbiamo subito capito che potevano esserci dei risvolti importanti da un’eventuale collaborazione e così ci siamo messi al lavoro per metterla a punto. In primis ci sarà uno scambio interculturale tra le due realtà, un po’ come avviene anche a livello scolastico: vorremmo mandare i nostri bambini della Scuola calcio negli Usa, ospitati dai genitori dei loro giovani atleti, e ovviamente contraccambiare. Inoltre i dirigenti della Fc Tormenta hanno sin da subito mostrato tanto interesse nei confronti sia dei metodi tecnici adottati dallo staff di mister Andrea Borsa, sia dalla nostra struttura organizzativa: hanno osservato da vicino le varie situazioni e abbiamo dato il via a questa importante collaborazione».
Tramite il Grottaferrata calcio Stefano Furlani, inoltre, la Fc Tormenta parteciperà all’importante torneo giovanile internazionale “Carminucci boys” che si terrà a Montecompatri dal 2 al 5 gennaio. «Alla manifestazione, organizzata dalla società amica della Fc Academy dove c’è il direttore Mimmo Rao a cui mi lega un rapporto di amicizia e stima – spiega Rizzo -, saremo presenti anche noi con il nostro gruppo di Pulcini 2006». A proposito di kermese giovanili, il Grottaferrata calcio Stefano Furlani sta per far partire il suo “torneo di Natale”: da lunedì prossimo e fino a venerdì 23 dicembre (giorno delle finali) le categorie Esordienti 2004 e 2005 animeranno i campi sportivi del club arancionero. Oltre alle due selezioni di casa saranno presenti il Setteville, il Rocca di Papa, il Centro Calcio Rossonero e il Cinecittà Bettini. Infine il club ha cancellato tutte le feste di Natale dopo il grosso spavento vissuto con la vicenda di Alex Grestoni, piccolo atleta che si è sentito male dopo la disputa di un torneo a Ciampino. Il Grottaferrata calcio Stefano Furlani manda un fortissimo abbraccio ad Alex e alla sua famiglia, che sono stati incitati con dei video messaggi anche da calciatori importanti (tra i quali Francesco Totti) in un momento molto complicato che ora, per fortuna, sembra essere alle spalle. Il club arancionero ringrazia anche il Città di Ciampino per un bel messaggio comparso sul sito a nome del responsabile della Scuola calcio Claudio Peroni e per la sensibilità mostrata nei confronti di Alex, della sua famiglia e di tutto il Grottaferrata calcio Stefano Furlani.