One year ago today, Zach started (what I thought was) a small side project that he called Crown Town Soccer. It was in the midst of a three week stay at the Atlantis Lodge, our family’s pet-friendly motel on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina (shameless plug). I was home going through last-minute wedding preparations and he was helping out around the motel. In the time that he wasn’t working, this was his project.
I was surprised when he sent it to me– he had attempted several soccer blogs while we were students at AppState, but they only lasted a few months each. This time he’d reached out to someone on Reddit who designed a logo for him (see below). He was really excited about the project and wanted to be the one to “fill the gap”– at the time, no one was covering the USL team coming to Charlotte. He was tired of searching for information and never getting it, so he decided to become the go-to source. (Don’t some of the best resources start this way?)
His first post got a lot of traffic and he was really excited to continue the site. I checked in on the website every once in a while, but I didn’t read every article. I dutifully followed the Twitter account and listened when he talked about the site. But I couldn’t help but think this was going to fold like his other projects–he even said he wasn’t sure how long it would last, but he would enjoy it for the time being.
The eager soccer community in Charlotte jumped all over the site and it grew much more quickly than we could have ever anticipated. By Zach’s birthday in September, the team was unveiling it’s name and I agreed to go with him to the event. Standing outside Hooligan’s, I realized this was the real deal. Charlotte was really getting a soccer team and people really wanted to know about it.
That night we met our friends Evan and Jill for the first time. They were following Zach’s live coverage on Twitter and found him in the crowd based on the angle of the pictures he posted online. They walked up to Zach and asked, “Are you Crown Town Soccer?” My jaw dropped. They knew my husband. From Twitter.
From that night on, more information poured in about the new team, and Zach had more than enough material to publish. He was able to enlist the help of other soccer fans in the area, and that was the start of the CTS Staff.
As a web designer, Zach was continuing to make tweaks to the site, but the biggest changes came in November. Zach called it “CrownTown 2.0” and was really pumped for the redesign. That post in November was a great recap of the first few months of Crown Town Soccer’s life, so it’s worth the read. He said “goodbye” to the Reddit-delivered logo and made his own clean-lined logo that I am still in love with. He kept the green color scheme at the time, but that has since changed to blue in honor of the team’s colors.
It has been so fun to watch Zach continue the project through the first season, which is still underway. This inaugural season for the Charlotte Independence has been one of uncertainty, excitement, and camaraderie. Even though they aren’t playing at Memorial Stadium this year, the changes in stadium plans have provided plenty of writing material– and engaged his readership in ways that might not have happened if everything had fallen together perfectly for the team’s ownership.
Independence fans are some of the most colorful and exciting people I have ever met– and it’s been so much fun to get to know them when I have gone to Hooligan’s to watch away games with them. We have made life-long friends because of this team, the supporter’s group, and other fans.
In the spring, Zach was really excited to try something new again– a podcast. We bought some equipment to help produce a better quality product, and it has been a lot of fun to watch this transform in the past few months. Every time that he, JH3, and Johnny record, I hole up in the bedroom of our tiny apartment for a few hours so that I don’t interfere with the sound– and I love doing it (not only am I happy to “help,” but it is the perfect time for me to catch up on my TV shows). Sometimes I’ll just sit in the bedroom and listen to his side of the conversation and it is hilarious. And then there was the live podcast on May 27 when I called him out on a few things…
The summer has provided me with more and more time to get involved with the soccer scene here in Charlotte. In addition to make fun memories and great friends, I’ve also seen just how much Crown Town Soccer has impacted the soccer community and how essential Zach is to that community.
Thanks to a kick in the pants from JH3 a few weeks ago, I’ve decided that it’s my turn to step up and become a real soccer fan with my husband. I can’t say that I will ever be as knowledgeable or passionate as he is (let’s be real, two of us at the caliber would be a bit scary), but I do know that I want the beautiful game to be part of our family’s life–not just Zach’s. I’ve now been to several Eagles games and I attended the CONCACAF double header last night (more on that another day…). A week from tomorrow I will finally attend a home Independence game and buy my own merch. It’s gonna be a good time.
I am so proud of Zach’s diligence and efforts in the past year. He hasn’t just made a website– he’s built a community that people want to be a part of and want to learn more about. This is no longer a side project– it’s part of our family.
So, without further gabbing, I want to wish Zach’s brain-child a very happy first birthday!! I can’t wait to see how this community of fans continues to grow and become something really special in the city of Charlotte in the years to come.
Update (1/5/17): As of October 2016, Zach decided it was time to shut down the site. You can learn more about his decision here if you are interested.
For more information about soccer in the Queen City, check out the following resources:
2. Charlotte Independence website for tickets, schedule and more
3. Charlotte Eagles website for info about our PDL team and the Lady Eagles