There are many stories to be written about the efforts it took to prevent the Columbus Crew from moving to Austin, Texas. This is just one of them. But in my opinion, it the most emotional, passionate, colorful, and entertaining.
First, what this story is not. It is not about the business negotiations, the political maneuvering, the legal wrangling, or the savvy strategic moves of those in power, all of which were necessary to achieve the ultimate outcome. You won’t read much about the people who pushed those boulders around. Their limited mentions are not meant to diminish their critical role or suggest they didn’t want to save the Crew as much as anyone. They clearly did. And though they aren’t the main subjects of this book, I trust you’ll appreciate the monumental efforts they gave in this mission and ponder the consequences had they not acted as they did.
There is also scant reference to the Crew players and staff employees. They understandably needed to remain silent, or at least neutral during these events in order to maintain their job security.
This story is about 19 individuals and the grassroots movement they remarkably began and led. They didn’t hold important positions, bring money to the table, or swing any boardroom deals. They didn’t have any political capital to leverage. They weren’t connected to any business titans.
What they had was passion, grit, focus, and determination to lead a grassroots phenomenon that mobilized and directed thousands of people from close and far away in their struggle against a force which threatened to destroy their beloved community.
became their rallying cry. While this hashtag came to symbolize the efforts of everyone involved in saving the club, these 19 people from the STC leadership team are the ones who launched the movement, managed it, and amplified it. This is their story.
You will learn about each of them in this journey. They are: Steve Abreu, Nate Beckman, Tom Davis, David and Kelly Foust, Sarah Hall, Ben Hoelzel, Morgan Hughes, Andrew King, Kevin McCollough, David Miller, Donny Murray, Tim Myers, Keith Naas, Tobias Roediger, Robert Rovick, Darby Schaaf, Mark Vuchenich, and John Zidar.
Each is quick to credit others for their many accomplishments, including the hundreds of volunteers and local businesses who shared the same sweat and determination; several of them are mentioned in this story; they, along with many others are listed in the addendum. Any effort to credit them all here would prove highly inadequate.
I met STC spokesperson, Morgan Hughes, through a separate project on September 28, 2018 – exactly two weeks before it would be announced that a deal was in place to keep the Crew in Columbus. At that time, I believed what I think most people in Columbus did, that keeping the team in town was a huge longshot. As he spoke, I learned that he had spent the previous 12 months physically and emotionally consumed by saving the Crew. He was exhausted. It was all that mattered to him. I was genuinely worried for him in the event the team did move. I also learned he was not alone. There was an entire congregation of people who felt the same way.
After the good news was announced on October 12, 2018, Morgan and I met again and I continued to be captivated by him and the stories he shared. So, I requested another meeting, then another. As I continued to learn more of the remarkable feats of the STC team, I said to Morgan, “You need to write a book.” He responded, “I rather drink poison. Why don’t you write it?” So, here we are.
Over the course of the next six months, I met with each of them and enjoyed every hour we shared, whether it was on my front porch or theirs, often over a cold beverage or two. I miss meeting with Morgan every Thursday afternoon on his back porch, playing with his yorkie pooch, Gary, as he sipped bourbon and ginger ale while entertaining me with his stories.
As each one took me through their personal journey, raw emotions were spilled, tears were shed, anger was spewed, and joy was shared. It was an honor to be trusted to put their words and perspectives together in the form of this book. Each of them are remarkable in their own right, and together they proved immovable. I hope I have served them well in capturing their true spirit, values, and morals.
10% of proceeds from books purchased direct will be used to support the Community Assist program, which provides Crew tickets to underserved, refugee, and immigrant children of Columbus.
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