THE BEAUTIFUL GAME, SPURS AND THE BOYS IN GOLD
Soccer was my very first sport. It was the sport that my dad, who worked nights and was always asleep during the day, stayed awake for to coach me as a five year old. It was where I was first successful as an athlete, and understood how awesome team sports could be. But when I became a sophomore in high school, my coaches conspired to make me put on some pads and start hitting people on the field on the other side of the track.
Fast forward to 2012 when I was working nonstop on a venture backed marketing tech company, flying all over the country, and disconnected from my boys due to work/life imbalance and divorce, I was in search of something that I could get into that I could do with them and have fun doing in the brief moments we had together. Some friends of mine were Manchester United fans, and suggested that I choose a team in the Premier League to follow and get my boys into. Perfect idea. After looking at the entire league, only one team felt like the many teams that I grew up loving in New York (Knicks, Jets and Mets by the way), and that was Tottenham Hotspur. Tottenham was a lot like East Flatbush, Brooklyn, the neighborhood that I grew up in. And Spurs are a club with glory from past success, but has not won a championship in decades. Perfect fit for me. I love the climb.
I chose Tottenham, and started watching the matches with my boys and fell back in love with my first, favorite sport. I started watching matches with Nashville Spurs, the official supporters group in Nashville and that was it. Tottenham Till I Die, and Soccer was once again my favorite sport.
“We feel an important part of Spurs’ support worldwide”
— Premier League (@premierleague) February 4, 2017
One day I was on Twitter looking at soccer stuff, and I came across Nashville FC. A guy named Chris Jones had started a grassroots movement to bring an amateur soccer team back to Nashville after the Nashville Metros stopped operating in 2012. This new club was accepting founding members for $75, so I signed up and became member #73. What I didn’t expect was that Chris and a subset of the initial founding members would launch a team in the NPSL in under 12 months, and bring 1000- 2000 people out to every game.
Chris and I had chatted from time to time on email, and at the end of the first season he reached out for us to meet. We talked about the future prospects of the team, and discussed me getting more involved. We agreed that I could help the org if I came on as the chairman of the board, to tighten up governance and structure. Within two months I was voted onto the board and started working. It was obvious to us all that the momentum that Nashville FC had was a signal of how fast soccer could grow in Nashville, and we decided that we wanted to be the group to bring that culture when the time was right. We engaged the members of the club, and got support to push forward.
In the Summer of 2015, we help an investor gathering to talk to potential investors for a pro soccer team. It was there that I met David Dill, CEO of LifePoint Health. David brought in his close friend Chris Redhage, and before we knew it, we had an investor group in place. David asked me to join the ownership group, and before we knew it, we had a professional soccer franchise with the USL (United Soccer League). Due to copyright issues, we couldn’t bring the Nashville FC name along, but to honor that legacy, we named our USL club Nashville Soccer Club, or Nashville SC for short.
Timing is everything. While we were pursuing the USL franchise, Major League Soccer (MLS), US Soccer’s first division league, was rolling out plans for expanding the league and adding four new teams. A few months after we announced our USL franchise to the market, John Ingram, Chairman of Ingram Content Group, put Nashville on a fast track to get a Major League Soccer team. After months of discussion and alignment, we sold a majority of our interest in the USL club to John to join forces and strengthen the bid for Major League Soccer. In December of 2017, Nashville got its Major League Soccer team. Four years, from a tweet to Major League Soccer. Crazy. We play in the USL now, and begin play in Major League Soccer in 2020. Come on you Boys in Gold!