"Being successful helps with all of that, so we hope to win the league. We see no reason why that is not a realistic goal."
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Hello again everyone, this is American Pyramid. Today I've got an interview for you with Premier League of America expansion team Aurora Borealis SC. Now before we go any further, I would like to turn your attention to the Standings tab. The PLA has graciously allowed me to keep league standings on the site. So if you ever want to know how things are going while reading an interview, now you can. Without further ado, back to your regularly scheduled programming. Check it out.
Welcome to American Pyramid Timothy. Let's start off by telling readers who you are, where you're from, and what your role is with Aurora Borealis SC.
I am Timothy Cottingim, the founder/owner/President of Aurora Borealis SC. We are based in one of the many Aurora's around the country, ours being Aurora, IL. Our club was founded/built on the observation that our area was population rich (250,000) and thus, talent rich. And we were without an upper level club. I am also a college coach at he junior college level so we had a pretty good hand on the pulse of the talent in the area. Did we get all the players we wanted? No, we did miss on some. But I think by the end of the summer when we have everyone in, we should be a very competitive side.
What's the story behind the name of you team?
The name Aurora Borealis, is obviously named after the Northern lights. But the light theme also ties in with the city of Aurora, nicknamed the City of Lights. It was one of the very first cities in the United States with electric street lights. Which is also why that is a part of our crest.
What was it that inspired you to actually get into soccer? Not just as a coach, but now also as a team owner.
I was a player long ago, not a good one. But I love the game and coaching is literally this/close to playing in the competitive spirit. It's just a lot of fun.
As far as an owner, I was injured in a work accident 5 years ago and could no longer work. What it did do is free up the time and also afford the opportunity to undertake something like this.
Coaching would be just about the closest you can get to playing. Where exactly is Aurora? I know it's in Illinois, but that's about it. And what makes it a special place? I've never been before, so I have no idea what kind of city it's like.
Aurora is about 45 minutes west of Chicago, pretty much the furthest suburb west. So while it's a major city, almost 200,000 itself, in just a few minutes drive to the west, you can be in farmland. So we are looking for support in both the suburban areas where we are and the rural areas to the west. Soccer is alive and well at the small schools to the west of us. I stated my career as a high school coach in one of those small towns 40 minutes west of Aurora.
To sum up, we feel with the population base here in Aurora and the surrounding areas, that our club could very successful as a business. Surely what helps that is having a great product on the field, which we intend to do. And nearly all of our players are local to the area.
Having that may local players should be a helpful marketing tool. A great way to get people to invest in and support the team from the get go. Where do you plan on playing your games for this upcoming season?
Our home matches will be played at a local high school, Mooseheart. They have a great facility with 3,000 seats that we very much hope to fill.
3,000 a game would be awesome turnout. Now for those reading this who might not know, your team is going to be competing in the Premier League of America, formerly the Great Lakes Premier League. What caused you to join the PLA over another league, like the NPSL or PDL? Both of those leagues have teams around as well.
True. We just thought, after crunching the numbers and looking at the benefits that each league has, weighed against one another, we just felt PLA was best fit for us. And you look at NPSL presently and we would've been in some phantom division, PDL, there is just so much travel in Midwest. Twice a year to Canada? We like where we are at, a strong regional league with a national appeal, that has 12 clubs and looking to grow more.
Okay. I'm noticing that trip to Canada is something of a theme with the other PLA teams I've interviewed. Sounds like that's a downside for the PDL at this point. What would you like to accomplish in year one to really consider it a success?
Mainly to create a foundation of loyal supporters. I think in the first year if we can get people on board it will be a spring board for future years. Of course, being successful helps with all of that, so we hope to win the league. We see no reason why that is not a realistic goal.
What kind of groundwork have you been doing to build that foundation of loyal supporters? Are there any particular marketing strategies or outreach programs you're undertaking?
We've been doing a lot charity auction giveaways to build brand awareness. Also, through our social media accounts. And we've had a pretty aggressive radio program going for a couple months as well. Hoping that our 500 youth recreation players will also provide us natural word of mouth marketing.
That seems pretty solid. I would say to that from my other conversations with team owners, nailing the logo is a very important step too. And in my opinion, at least, you guys have done just that. What kind of advice would you give to someone looking to start a team about getting the word out and marketing well?
Fortunately in our situation, we are already in a very well populated area that did not have a team. With our surrounding communities, we are well over 250,000 people. That is more than many USL markets. On top of that, we have fertile ground. Aurora and the surrounding communities have a reputation for being a little soccer crazy and we intend to market to and capitalize on that. But I think, being prepared, and having the the resources to get the word out is essential. While you could get a team up and running on very limited budget, we are in a densely populated area with a lot of entertainment options, including one of the most successful minor league baseball teams in the country (Kan County Cougars) and a minor league hockey team (Chicago Steel-I think). The hockey team plays right here in the Fox Valley Ice Arena and is drawing about 1,500 per game. We think we have the right product for the community.
You've touched on an interesting point with that answer. Budget vs Options. Doesn't seem like a lot of teams really consider that when they start. The amount of money vs the other entertainment and sporting options available to potential fans. How important do you think that really is for new teams to consider when starting out?
I think it's market sensitive. For example, a market such as Toledo or Grand Rapids, they have network television there. But without major sports teams in their direct market, you may very well see them on the 10 pm sportscast. Where we sit, only 40 minutes from Chicago, with a multitude of options at all price points, for us, it has to be a consideration. We'e set aside money in the budget for radio, for giving our fans the best experience (firework show July 1), and most of all, we certainly hope, by providing a great product. With this being our first season, there's not much a measuring stick yet, but anytime you have a winning team, it will generate excitement.
At the same time, we want as many fans in the stadium as possible, so we do a ton of giveaways and promotions to help that along. And our game day ticket is only $7, $5 with a student ID.
Very nice, really sounds like you have done your homework on getting all of this off the ground. Now where do you want to see this team in 5 years? You've done some really good groundwork, including getting C.J Brown as your head coach. I'm interested in knowing what the long game is.
For us, the current goal is to grow our club's fan base. And being in season, we hope to do that by having a winning product on the field. Long term, we want to grow the Premier League of America. We believe the vision of this league as compared to some others, and we are committed to growing that. With our population base, if we are successful, who knows, maybe we could entertain the idea of jumping to USL. First and foremost, get this season started successfully and learn to get better from there.
If you're ready, we can get into the rapid fire questions. What's your favorite league and or team to watch?
Well, I''m sure this is very typical, but I love the EPL. I think it's the best league in the world, top to bottom. I think when you watch what a Leicester City has done over the last year, it proves it out. But I'm also a big fan of the MLS and long-time Fire fan.
Who are your favorite players, one past, one present?
How about a guy like Jamie Vardy? No all the skill in the world but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone that works harder or that their teammates appreciate more. For the past, I'm going completely rogue. I like the old Chicago Sting, whole team from back in the day, I really hope they are able to revive that brand here. Would be special.
Do you have a favorite soccer book and/or podcast?
There is a book I love that i refer to but i must be honest, I've never fully completely read. It is called "Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Soccer Tactics", by a dude named Jonathan Wilson. It talks about the different styles around the world and different coaches who had a major impact on the game. It;s long, but it is interesting and you can pick it up to read just a part of it.
That's a great book. Thick, but worth the time. Last question/closing statement. What would you like to say to the people reading this about why they should support their local team?
Well, I think it's the only way to grow soccer universally across the country. If everyone just waits around to throw their support behind the closest MLS team, whenever that arrives, is it really theirs. Clubs at our level provide communities with an opportunity to support their club and soccer as a whole. And, the way we run our club, we are using primarily players local to the area or who attend college in the area. So when we put the name Aurora in front of Borealis SC, people can know that this is a club for Aurora, built by people from Aurora, with players from Aurora.
I really appreciate your time and patience. We really appreciate the exposure. Anytime again would be my pleasure.
Not a problem Timothy, thanks for taking your time to do this. Remember, if you are enjoying the content I'm putting out, I'd encourage you to click here to Follow me on Twitter, or here to Like the page on Facebook. And if you'd like even more content coming your way on the regular, click here and sign up for the weekly newsletter, containing fun articles and videos, sometimes covering soccer, sometimes not. Make sure to spread the word. Share interviews, tell friends about the blog, those kind of things. I can't accomplish my goal of maximum exposure for all levels of the American Soccer Pyramid without YOU. Until next time, Stay Loyal, Support Local.