In no other sports is there a stronger link between the players on the field and those that consume the product those players produce than there is in soccer. People are fans of hockey, baseball and American football teams. People are supporters of soccer clubs.
Looking back through the history of teams across the globe, a common link to this unique connection between the team and its supporters is a foundation of local players representing their town for the club. What usually follows are those outside of the team joining in support. This is no different for the Columbus Eagles. For them, it’s the Eagle’s Nest.
The Eagle’s Nest Foundation is a family-friendly group supporting the local game. Their founding dates back to when the team started in 2014 but picked up traction in local soccer supporters' culture in the past two years.
David Carver reestablished the Eagle’s Nest supporters’ group and has helped organize it since 2018. His involvement in cheering for his local team is connected to another community event familiar to Columbus Crew supporters — the Save the Crew movement. Crew supporters did not take the news of former investor-operator Anthony Precourt’s announcement to move the Major League Soccer team to Austin, Texas well. For most, it was a call to action. No matter how big or small they could be involved. Even with the team announcing they were staying in October of 2018, there was still a bad taste in the mouths of some Black & Gold faithful.
For Carver, taking charge of the Columbus Eagles’ supporters’ group began with a preseason match in the spring of 2018. At the time, the original Eagle’s Nest was no more and after one game he felt the urge to start it back up. “I wanted to go through something that made me feel good about soccer again,” he said.
His motivation to restart the supporters' group wasn’t just a way to refocus his soccer energy elsewhere, it was also the skill he saw on the field. “They’re good,” said Carver. “Better than most of the men’s teams I’ve seen.”
The passion supporters have gravitated to those on the field, as the Eagles players aren’t receiving a professional athlete’s paycheck either. Carver puts it in the simplest terms, “they are playing because they want to play high-level competitive soccer.”
When thinking about a local soccer team, it's normally based on where the stadium is located. The Eagles are a team that is comprised of mostly players that have called Central Ohio home and after playing collegiately and returning to Columbus. They wanted to keep playing the game they love.
Like the northeast corner of historic Crew Stadium, it isn’t difficult to find the Columbus Eagles supporters’ area on match day. Carver and the rest of the Nest head to matches early to hang up banners and get ready to support the Eagles. People that haven’t attended will hear them singing, waving flags and the occasional constructive criticism for the officiating crew.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Eagles’ 2020 season was canceled, but their return to the field is fast approaching. Saturday, Feb. 6, was the first game of the indoor season against an in-state rival in the Cincinnati Sirens. While the Eagles prepare on the field, the Eagle’s Nest is getting ready behind the scenes. This year, they were admitted into the Independent Supporters’ Council, the first supporters’ group of a Women’s Premier Soccer League team.
That was a positive step for the group. Next, adding more supporters to their ranks becomes a priority.
“We’re looking for more people to take on an active role in organizing events and getting things out to a wider community,” said Carver.
The easiest way to keep up with the latest with the Eagle’s Nest is following the group on Facebook and Twitter. When supporters are allowed back at matches, look for banners and listen for them singing. On top of being family-friendly, the Eagle’s Nest is a great place for new supporters to get to know fellow Eagles supporters and learn about the team.
“We’re a pretty laid back and relaxed group,” Caver said.
One thing that’s evident with the Eagle’s Nest is their strong commitment to supporting women’s soccer in Central Ohio.
“I’m just looking forward to them being back on the field,” Carver said after losing a season of supporting their team.
The Columbus Eagles follow up the team’s 6-6 draw against the Sirens this Saturday with their first Premier Arena Soccer League away match against the Chicago Mustangs at 5 p.m. ET.