Maryland Major Soccer League has gone through an offseason of growth and expansion, adding several new clubs. One of the most exciting is Fortitude FC. Incredibly active on social media and putting their right foot forward, we thought we’d talk with club founder, Hector Monterroso about the process of starting a new club in one of the strongest regional leagues in the country.
You founded your club last year. What inspired you to start a club?
Well to be honest I have always wanted to start a club of my own. My father was a semi-pro player and coach in Mexico, I guess I followed in his footsteps. I have been coaching for 5 or more years now, I have coached from rec, travel, club, and currently high school and Fortitude FC. My playing ended when I tore my acl but I am working my way back. But this is where my love for the game came from, having my life always surrounded by soccer. Naturally, as a coach and a player, I wanted to give others the same opportunity. Also, I want to do this the right way, One big dream of mine is to make my club as successful as possible to not follow the ¨pay-to play-model.¨ Just being a club coach, I got to see the worst part of this model. However, the biggest motivator for this journey is the passion behind the fans. I want to make this club a reason for communities come together, to show the passion and love of our badge and the game. One thing I have always believed, a club does two things, develop players and create supporters. If you get both of these formulas correct, you become the heart of your communities, what more could you ask for?
Why Maryland Majors?
The Majors, well they are one of the best leagues. Don´t get me wrong there a lot of great leagues out there but our choices were between MMSL or UPSL. The history behind the The Majors and the effort they put in to helping clubs speaks volumes to us.
Starting a new club, what steps do you see as most important in the process?
The most important step, in my opinion, to find a clear vision, which you undoubtedly believe in. Then your vision will bring in an effective team and business opportunities. Obviously you have to work hard for it but you being able to show your faith in your idea will get others to follow and believe in it as well. Love is like a bug and spreads easily, but you have to mean it.
How did you put together your roster?
My roster is a mix of player from my team that was playing in the Howard County Soccer League in 2018 and the new players from the tryouts we had in december.
Talk about your players, who should we be watching for?
We have a lot of players with some solid backgrounds. Few have played for youth academies like Pipeline, Sac, and Baltimore Bays. Some have college experiences like Stevenson, UMBC, and Loyola.
Three top players to look out for are: CB Tyler Russo #6 Team Captain and newly joined CDM Caristan Fotso Tokam and CB Tom Kerby
Top youth player, 16 year old LB #2 Gerson Kroiz
You worked with Icarus to create your kits, can you talk about the process and the final result?
Honestly, it was the smoothest process ever. We kept liking each others comments and posts on twitter, so I decided to reach out to them. I knew I needed new kits for the coming year and I loved their work. They replied and everything was straight forward from there. It was great! They have a great team and do great work! I always recommend them when a team asks me where to turn to for uniforms. As far as the final product, I think they are beautiful! Really, I think they did a great job and we are extremely happy with how they turned out.
How important is brand management for a startup club?
I think this is key for new clubs, when done correctly. I think this is the best way to keep your name out there and to build the following you want. This will open doors financially and will open doors for partnerships. However, with that said, you have to do it to the best of your club´s current state and financial power. But if you do it right, I think it helps a lot, just look at Motorik FC and a few other lower league clubs. Plus brands are what people end up believing in. Most love a club for the story they tell, this is usually done through branding.
What are your goals for season 1?
Our goals for our first season:
Help some of my younger guys get into colleges
To keep growing our brand beyond just Maryland, maybe 1k followers in all social media platform.
Christos was the fall champion of the top tier, do you see their prolonged success as inspirational? What lessons do you take from them?
Yeah, I know a few of those guys over there. To see them go so far and grow the way they have is great. To the partnership they formed with FC Baltimore (Which I interned with the coaching staff last season) is great. The thought of being able to play against them one day is such a wonderful thought. A great lesson everyone should take from them is to run your organization the right way and correctly with the right backing, you can reach any level. I had a conversation with Lawrence, he was one of the main reasons I felt like the move to the Majors was a better than a move to UPSL.
In a few words, yeah they are a great club and we (new clubs) can learn alot for them, there is a reason they have been around for so long.
Anything else we need to know about Fortitude FC?
Fortitude FC is a new club with big dream. One of them is getting into the NPSL, but for now we'll just build a solid foundation and growing, first the D1 promotion.
I also want to take the time and introduce the team:
Andrew Myers, Team Manager
Tyler Russo, Club Staff and Captain
and a partnership Media 26, who handle all of our photography and videography