Bugeaters FC: Reaping the harvest
Few teams have exploded on the lower tier soccer scene like Bugeaters FC. Founded earlier this year in Lincoln, Nebraska, Bugeaters FC has effectively leveraged social media, beneficial partnerships and smart design to attract a national audience that few have been able to match. Led by owner John Collura, the club has been a model of smart but aggressive growth - targeting opportunities in creative ways to yield results. Their fans are spread across the map - far from the sprawling fields of Nebraska - due to their innovative approach to growing a soccer club in the lower tiers of the American pyramid. That creativity hasn’t just garnered attention in their social media marketing, their slick packaging of the crest and kit have also brought hungry eyes from all over the world. Jonathan Collura shared some of his thoughts on their kit and crest and what he feels defines the Bugeater brand.
Jonathan Collura has a hands-on approach to his club and designing the kits was a task he took on himself. His love of kits began long ago and he brought that love of design to the Bugeaters’ look. “I designed them. I’ve been collecting kits since ‘94.“ Having collected kits for almost 25 years, Collura knew what his unifying focus would be for his kit design: the logo. “The black one is intended to make the badge the focal point…I believe the key to a successful kit is logo placement and being completely visible.”
The Bugeater name goes back to a 19th century nickname for farmers from Nebraska. As the story goes, farmers grew crops, bugs ate the crops, farmers had nothing to eat but bugs - so they were bugeaters. The farming ethos, such a defining one for the club’s home state, is seen throughout their design. The crest is a model of clean lines and distinct design. The tractor drives across the top of a soccer ball, but, in some ways, the soccer ball is a symbol of the world. The brand has a worldwide appeal, tapping into a innate appreciation for farmers and their important work. Farming has been the key to our success as humans, and Bugeaters embraces that culture with passion. Their catch phrase, seen throughout their social media and web presence, is “Farm to Pitch.” That connection, both soil based and passion based, is embodied by this Nebraskan club.
Their away kit is a beautiful example of Collura’s eye for design. “The red/white sleeves are something unique I thought of. Commonly seen on the kit, itself, I felt that this would fit the look.” The use of bright colors, particularly in contrast to their dark black kits, provides two distinct looks for fans to choose from when purchasing kits. Both kits feature small details that continue to tie the club to their state and agrarian ethos - “You’ll note the state outline on the back of the neck. The inside has Farm to Pitch in the neck. I think it’s the little details that help.”
The kit has also been used to cement new relationships that are paying dividends for Bugeaters FC’s popularity and financial success. Every kit features a patch on the arm for the Cooligans podcast, a national show that mixes comedy and soccer. “Absolutely fantastic guys. I cannot say enough about how much they have helped us.” Pair that with their kit sponsor, Backswing Brewing, also based in Lincoln, Nebraska. Backswing specializes in brewing craft beer and created a special brew specifically for Bugeaters, “Bugeaters FC Goalden Ale.” The kit will change next year as another corporate connection is finalized, a multi-year kit deal is in the works. When asked with which manufacturer, Collura only offered - “Can’t say yet, but we are excited that they wanted to sign a deal with us…We’ll aim to be consistent with style and keep unique elements and details.”
What is clear about Bugeaters FC and Collura, they are resourceful and are using their kit and crest as a means to grow their fan base and financial well being. Much like the farmer ethos the club models itself after, Collura is using what he has in the most resourceful way possible. And just like those farmers, he’s beginning to reap a successful harvest.
- Dan Vaughn