In its first season, the member board had limited role, as Minneapolis City was still trying to figure out how the club was going to work with its members. The group met a couple of times and discussed fundraising events and ways to make things better for those who come out to games. The board’s function is to serve as the voice of the club’s members, offering input on a number of subjects ranging from jersey design to the gameday experience.
“We are still in growth mode and, as we build, we want to make sure that we don’t lose anything about the grassroots, home-brewed club that we built,” says Minneapolis City Chairman Dan Hoedeman. “More formal involvement with the member board will ensure that we don’t lose that.”
This year, the board is roughly committing to meet every six weeks, aiming to build the club and help the community. Also, the board members will be able to bring ideas, raise topics, and provide membership input to the club and accountability from the club.
Hoedeman continues, “It’s a great mix of people, too. David Baker brings continuity from the very beginning; Kate Sophia, who is such a thoughtful person, was already acting as an adviser, and this just makes it formal; and Emmanuel Ortiz is a new member with a lot of great, community-relevant experience and a lot of passion who will make sure we keep pushing things forward.”
Emmanuel, the organizer
Emmanuel Ortiz joins the board in his first year as a member. In 2002, he co-founded POC Soccer, a community soccer team for people of color, and in 2012 he became a founding member of Left Wing TC, which is part of a national network of progressive/leftist squads in Oakland, Los Angeles, the Twin Cities, Chicago, Washington D.C., and New York City. These squads are known as “Left Wing Futbolistas” and aim to create a space for people of all skill/experience levels, ages, and gender identities to play soccer in a space that challenges the hyper-competitive, win-at-all-costs dominant model in favor of a cooperative, team-oriented “anti-imperialist” vision.
“A model such as Minneapolis City’s can be a counter-narrative to the corporate ownership model that so many assume or believe is inevitable.”
“I remember seeing flyers for the team last year, but not being able to make it to any games,” Ortiz says. “I didn’t learn that the team was member-owned, however, until this past offseason. I am extremely intrigued by the member-owner model of sports teams, and in collective models in general… So to have a chance to be part of such a project here in my city, with the sport I love, particularly at a time when corporate professional soccer arrives in the Twin Cities. That’s a piece that can’t be understated — how a model such as Minneapolis City’s can be a counter-narrative to the corporate ownership model that so many assume or believe is inevitable, natural, and beneficial to a community.”
In his first year as a board member, Ortiz is looking forward to working with the club to build something in the community.
“I want to work with my colleagues on our community relations and fostering a soccer culture in the Twin Cities,” Ortiz says. “I’m an organizer at heart, and have worked in collective-use soccer as a site for social change, and I really hope to be able to do that within the Minneapolis City community, as well.”
Kate Sophia was around for the City’s first season and was looking to get more involved in year two.
“I’m really excited for year two,” Sophia says. “I hope we see a lot more people coming to matches and getting involved with the team. To grow the interest in wider circles. As far the team goes, I’m really excited that we have a broad range of players — from high school to former pros — who can energize and help each other improve. Should make for some really great soccer to watch.”
“I like my fun to be cheeky! Plus, when I talk to others about everything the team is doing, they are invariably intrigued by Grumpy Cat and want to learn more.”
Minneapolis City’s first year was filled with some memorable matches and chants, but one of the top among them for Sophia was the infamous “top knot vs. man bun debate of 2016.” She explains that at one point during a season a group of supporters broke off from the main Citizens supporters and stood on the opposite side of the pitch. “When all were assembled, a grand ‘top knot/man bun’ call-and-response chant commenced. This was after the entire group had a learning moment as [fellow board-member] David Baker taught the group the difference between the two.”
Sophia is a firm supporter of the Grumpy Cat as the unofficial mascot for the club. In fact, in her board nominee statement she said you can find her at matches “wearing a full-head mask of Grumpy Cat.”
“I love crows. They are black, they are pink, they are smarter than you think,” Sophia says. “The reason I went big on Grumpy Cat was because that is what hooked me for this team. I like my fun to be cheeky! Plus, when I talk to others about everything the team is doing, they are invariably intrigued by Grumpy Cat and want to learn more.”
David Baker is the lone returning board member and is also the founder of the Citizens, Minneapolis City’s first supporters’ group.
“I am anti-Grumpy Cat, anti-shirt, and pro-beer. Speaking for the weird and wonderful fans of this team is a pleasure.”
“I love Minneapolis City SC,” Baker says. “My involvement with the club has led to opportunities I never would have guessed it would have, as well as friendships with many of those who cheer on the Crows. I am anti-Grumpy Cat, anti-shirt, and pro-beer. Speaking for the weird and wonderful fans of this team is a pleasure.”
Baker’s second year on the board will be a much different experience than year one, as the club has grown substantially compared to its inaugural season. The Citizens will be growing alongside them.
“We’ve gotten bigger and added leadership positions this year,” Baker says, “and we’re focusing way more on fundraising for charity and volunteering, which I’m very excited about.”
Citizens member Edu Rosales is heading up the newly-formed charitable wing of the supporters’ group, Model Citizens. The group is working with the Sheridan Story for their first event. The Sheridan Story works to “close the weekend food gap between Friday and Monday, when children are not able to participate in the free or reduced meal programs at school.”
“We want to participate with as many diverse partners in Minneapolis as we can and leave our stamp on the city.”
“As Minneapolis City and our supporters’ group grows, we want to start growing our community outreach,” Rosales says. “We want to participate with as many diverse partners in Minneapolis as we can and leave our stamp on the city. There are great examples of how supporters’ groups do this, and we wanted to make sure that we too could give back to the community. The club already does a lot of work with kids through soccer camps, but as a supporters’ group, we want to add to that in other areas.”
Rosales wants as many people as possible to be a part of the initiative and hopes that other supporters’ groups will join in for future events.
“We aren’t in the business of competing with other supporters’ groups,” Rosales says, “in fact we’ve had conversations with Rich [Harrison] with the Dark Clouds’ Silver Lining [service arm] and there is definitely a possibility that we can do joint events. We’re also open to any other soccer supporters’ group that is interested in doing community service work. I leave that invitation out there for anyone to get involved.”
Editor’s note: both Kate Sophia and David Baker are FiftyFive.One contributors.