TAMPA, Fla. – The anticipated launch of the nation’s top professional third-division soccer league, USL Division III, took a major step forward today as the new league welcomed South Georgia Tormenta FC as a founding member for 2019. The high-performing club will compete in its third Premier Development League season in 2018 before moving to the professional level.
“Today’s announcement is the culmination of years of hard work from our organization to develop and launch a successful third division built on the principles and foundation that made the USL one of the most prominent second divisions in the world. We are thrilled to welcome South Georgia Tormenta FC into the USL Division III as a founding member and expect the club to continue its success from the PDL,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis. “This is just the beginning of an exciting period of growth for USL Division III as we expect to unveil more new markets in the coming months and continue to lead the growth of professional soccer in the United States.”
Tormenta FC has established itself as one of the premier amateur teams across the United States since its founding in 2015, earning the PDL’s New Franchise of the Year award in 2016 and finishing as a runner-up for the PDL’s Franchise of the Year award in 2017.
The club has filed plans to construct and released renderings of a new state-of-the-art 5,000-seat soccer-specific stadium in Statesboro, which will provide an exciting and authentic professional soccer experience for fans and players. The venue would also have the ability to host other sporting and entertainment events, and upon completion, the facility intends to be the home for the Georgia Southern University men’s and women’s soccer programs.
“This is an exciting time for South Georgia soccer fans, as we prepare to join USL Division III and bring professional soccer to our region in 2019,” said Tormenta FC Owner and President Darin Van Tassell. “Elevating the club to the proven model of the USL professional ranks allows us to increase the impact our organization can have in the local community, region and country.”
Darin and Netra Van Tassell will serve as Majority Owners of the professional team. Darin Van Tassell – who received his Ph.D. in International Studies from the University of South Carolina and was awarded his B.A. in Political Science from Georgia Southern in 1989 – is the President of BVT Enterprises, Inc. He was named 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce and previously served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is a three-time former Olympian, who served as a Head Coach in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, as a Technical Commissioner for the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) in the 2004 Olympics in Athens and as the Competition Director for the IBAF in the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Netra R. Van Tassell – who received her M.A. in Exceptional Children from the University of South Carolina in 1994 and her B.A. in Early Education from Georgia Southern University in 1990 – serves as the Vice President of BVT Enterprises, Inc. She also serves as the Chief Operations Officer of all activities at The Clubhouse, where she manages more than 75 employees and has been responsible for daily operations since 2010.
“Tormenta FC is a first-class organization, and Darin and Netra Van Tassell have been at the forefront of the club’s success since its founding in 2015,” continued Papadakis. “We are excited to bring the thrill of professional soccer to South Georgia, as Tormenta FC continues to be a catalyst for growth in the community. The club’s remarkable new facility in Statesboro will not only be one of the best in the region but also be a standard-bearer for the entire third-division landscape in North America.”
In addition, Jeff Spencer, Craig Simonson, Jeremy Aven, Stephanie Brighton, Kristen Goodman, Alan and Kristin Kagen and Phil and Mary Ann Michel will serve as Minority Owners for the franchise.
USL Division III will provide passionate soccer supporters in new markets with a proven professional experience. The league remains focused on positioning teams for long-term success by creating regional rivalries that reduce travel costs, encourage supporter travel and deliver on-field excitement. The regional model has been a hallmark of success for the USL, and led to thriving soccer communities throughout the country.
Darin H. Van Tassell has served as the Owner and President of South Georgia Tormenta FC since the club’s founding in 2015. He is the President of BVT Enterprises, Inc., and Co-Founder of The Clubhouse in Statesboro, Georgia. In 2016, Tormenta FC was named New Franchise of the Year and awarded two Golden Scarf Awards for excellence in operations. In 2017, Van Tassell was named a finalist for Executive of the Year by the PDL, while Tormenta FC was a runner-up for Franchise of the Year.
Netra R. Van Tassell is Vice-President of BVT Enterprises, Inc., and serves as the Chief Operations Officer of all activities at The Clubhouse, which she co-founded alongside Darin Van Tassell. She manages over 75 employees and is the responsible for the daily operations since 2010 at The Clubhouse. She received her M.A. in Exceptional Children from the University of South Carolina in 1994 and her B.A. in Early Education from Georgia Southern University in 1990. She was a kindergarten teacher from 1990 – 2001 and was a former professor in the College of Education and Department of Children and Family Development at Georgia Southern University from 2001-2010.
Jeff Spencer serves as the General Manager for the Callawassie Golf Club in Okatie, South Carolina, Craig Simonson is a Certified Public Accountant living in Bluffton, South Carolina, Jeremy Aven lives in Savannah and is the founder and Director of Coaching for Tormenta FC Youth Academy, Stephanie Brighton has a background in sales and lives in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and Kristen Goodman is an attorney at Hall, Arbery, Gilligan, Roberts, Shanlever LLP in Atlanta, Georgia, while living in Savannah. Alan and Kristin Kagen are Co-Founders of the Savannah-Hilton Head Youth Soccer Alliance and currently reside in Frisco, Texas. Phil Michel is a retired analyst from the U.S. government and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Washington, while Mary Ann Michel is a graduate of Savannah High and Emory University, currently working as an analyst for the federal government; they both reside in Gambrills, Maryland, and plan to retire in Statesboro.