The end of the 2020 season marks a pivotal milestone for South Georgia Tormenta FC - five years completed as a club. Five years of thrilling home matches, title-winning seasons and Twitter-breaking goals. Looking back, there is so much to celebrate, and we plan to highlight these victories and achievements, big and small, over the course of this offseason as we prepare for 2021.
ESPN’s Drew Fellios has been the voice of Tormenta TV since the club’s inaugural season in 2016. In this Q&A, Fellios looks back on five years of Tormenta FC soccer. Fellios started with ESPN in 2012 as a play-by-play commentator for college football and basketball. He has since become the main commentator for the Pop Warner Super Bowl and the International Champions Cup, along with ESPN Wide World of Sports at the Walt Disney World Resort and the Little League World Series. Fellios also commentates for USL Championship-side Tampa Bay Rowdies.
I remember standing on the field with a mic in hand as we were about to record the open for the first-ever Tormenta FC soccer game. None of us on staff at the time really knew what was coming, but I had a feeling we were about to be part of something very special! Looking back, it was certainly one of the unique moments of my broadcasting career.
Through ESPN, I had helped Georgia Southern with their ESPN 3 (now ESPN+) programming in 2015. I heard through the grapevine that there was a married couple in Statesboro bringing professional soccer to the area. So I knew two things:
Professional sports organizations tend to give off a corporate and sometimes arrogant vibe with their front office, staff, players, etc. Tormenta FC is the complete opposite. It has always been a small-town family environment. The environment wins over the players, all the way from when they first arrive to when they depart. They truly buy-in. Tormenta FC is a special place for the beautiful game.
Calling games for Tormenta FC has been so much fun. Dealing with past coaches Ben Freakley and John Miglarese and now Ian Cameron has been a treat. They have taught me so much about this great game. When we speak before each match, I get a sense of how they push each player to be the best they can be. Each one has their own journey. I try to be as prepped as possible on the entire roster so I can tell that journey throughout the broadcast. And when the game happens and the goals happen, calling the action is the easy part!
June 24, 2017. Tormenta battled Tri-Cities to a scoreless draw for 88 minutes until Sam Lofts buried one for the 1-0 win. I remember the next day. Sam was on the front page of the Herald with arms in the air. That night just stands out.
From what I've experienced, I think the first few seasons the focus was getting the word out about professional soccer in Statesboro and putting all the pieces in place so the brand could establish itself. But now, the reality of Tormenta being a professional sports brand has given the club a whole new approach. It's not just about winning over Statesboro, it is about putting South Georgia in the spotlight nationally and internationally. It's about making this an eventual destination for great youth, high school, college, and international players. And I know right now it is about making sure the new stadium is coming along and ensuring Tormenta has an amazing home and Statesboro has a new hot spot!
I've watched Leland Archer and Nico Rittemeyer compete for the Charleston Battery over the past three seasons. So proud of those guys who will now both compete for their countries Trinidad and Tobago and Guatemala respectively. I've also seen guys like Marco Micaletto, Jad Arslan, and Josh Phelps who may not have gotten that call-up as quick, but have continued to fine-tune their games and be great fixtures of this club. Also, I think Ian Cameron will be fabulous as the new head coach of the first team.