Five years ago, Columbus Eagles Chief Executive Officer and Owner Mark Wise wrote an initial investment check for $6,000 to get his Womens Professional Soccer League franchise off the ground and then came the hard part.
He had to wait.
Wise became concerned about attendance for tryouts for his newly minted franchise. He recalls a meeting during the inaugural season when he spoke with his investors prior to tryouts. “Guys, if we don’t get a single girl to come to tryouts, we’re in trouble,” Wise said in an interview with 614 magazine.
Fast forward to present day and the Columbus Eagles are in the midst of growth unlike anything the franchise has seen before. Fueling the growth is word-of-mouth referrals, social media and Save The Crew. The grassroots movement, created after Columbus Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt announced potential plans to move his team to Austin, Texas, has reinvigorated Central Ohio and fans are flocking to Eagles games as a result of the local ownership.
Just this past week, a group of Save The Crew members took to Twitter to get the word out about the small number of subscribers on the Eagles YouTube account. The social media blast grew the account from 21 followers to 180 followers over a two-day period.
The overwhelming response from fans has Wise feeling humbled and excited for the upcoming season. He didn’t expect his franchise to ascend the ranks of the WPSL so quickly.
“I did not expect it to have as much player participation and fan participation,” he said. “I was hoping, but I had no idea it would turn around and be here five years later.”
Earlier this month the Eagles announced the club sold a record number of season ticket membership this offseason and expressed its gratitude on social media.
We have officially set a club record for memberships sold in a single season.— Columbus Eagles FC (@ColumbusEagles) March 12, 2018
Wow. Wow!! Columbus, sincerely, thank you! Thank you thank you thank you. #CEFChttps://t.co/vDJhuvQt7Z pic.twitter.com/rUYEWkLK26
Wise and his staff realize that some people are still on the fence about supporting the club, but has a message to those people who are unsure of the women’s league.
“It’s great soccer,” he said. “If you are a soccer fanatic, you should come see these ladies play. They have tremendous skill, we put on a good game and there is a lot of good competition.”
Captain Mary Seiffert is excited for what’s to come in 2018 and notices the increase in traffic on social media.
“We’ve had so much more support coming in,” she said. “What’s going on with Major League Soccer is definitely contributing to that, but I’m excited to show them what we can do and to hopefully show them that we want to be bigger than just ourselves and be a part of the community, and we want to bring this level of soccer on the women’s side to Columbus and hopefully with younger players and younger girls who may be coming and watching and want to play some time or keep that passion alive, I think that’s huge.”