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Mint City, Chapter by Chapter: Coastal

written by: Grant Fath

When surveying the areas of the Carolinas that are excited about Major League Soccer now having a home in the Old North and Palmetto states, please don’t forget about the sunshine coastline. Currently based out of Wilmington, the Mint City Coastal chapter led by Eric Hill who is also serving as Chapter Director, has been working hard to ensure the beautiful game being played in Charlotte is well known to those that live near the beautiful Carolina beaches.

This effort most certainly will entail some grit and perseverance. While there has been an initial burst of engagement, a large population is still unaware of the team. “Still have people who have no idea who the team is...here it’s a complete mystery,” noted Eric. This was part of the impetus for him looking to get some organization around support for Charlotte FC. A group for people to learn, celebrate, and enjoy the game. Taking to social media, Eric inquired about the best way to organize a group a couple of hours away from Charlotte. After observing that Mint City Collective already had a strong community and what Eric called fantastic conversations with David Gusler, president of MCC, and Matt Chantry, Vice-President, it was determined that a Mint City chapter would be a great way to start. And thus, Mint City has made its way to the Atlantic.

Hoping to display their love and enthusiasm not just for soccer but also for the community, the Chapter has conducted beach cleanups and is busy scheming additional community events. As the group pushes to establish a core membership amongst the locals, they are also striving to get the team’s eye as well. Although the excitement for the team is high there is also some disappointment with the lack of exposure and outreach that has been made out their way. A prime example is that currently, no merchandise can be found in the stores, whether it be a local or national chain. Undeterred, being a constant voice from afar is firmly a part of the Chapter’s motivations.

Given the obstacles that a chapter with the proximity gap that MCC Coastal faces, it is almost imperative to ensure the foundation is not built on sand. The relationship fostered with Might As Well Wilmington has helped provide a sturdy base for this Chapter to build off of. “Happy to be there...happy to have us,” says Eric of their partnership with the bar. Jeff Loock, the bar’s general manager, and the establishment have not only been accommodating but also proactive in promoting the Chapter, its events, and Charlotte FC. The bar has frequently posted to social media with its staff in team gear to help extend exposure. Also, in a place that sees high tides and low tides, people come, and people go the bar has committed to providing a great venue and showing games for the entire season. This commitment is essential as the Chapter looks to continually build themselves and the community around them.

The outreach has paid dividends by attracting new members and those visiting the surrounding beaches. Enjoying the pleasant beaches while also taking in Charlotte FC with a great and passionate crowd is certainly a bonus for any vacation. A luxury that even some of the player’s families have enjoyed, with Brandt Bronico’s parents stopping by as well as members of Jaylin Lindsey’s family. Mint City Coastal chapter is not just about fun in the sun but also committed to ensuring Charlotte FC and soccer are as common as seashells up and down the coast.

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