BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — It was only seven months ago when Morgan Copes was on the phone with his buddy, John Killian, throwing out the idea of a soccer team in Birmingham.
“‘Do you think it would be cool if we had this?’ and it just took off from there. All of a sudden, we just hit the ground running,” Copes said.
Killian and Copes are the co-founders of the Birmingham Hammers, a grassroots movement to bring a professional soccer team to the Magic City.
What started as a simple idea has now grown into merchandise, a solid social media following and their first public fundraiser Wednesday night.
“It’s been crazy. It’s been a lot of fun,” Copes says of the last seven months. “It’s been a learning process for both of us.”
The duo began by selling scarves, a common souvenir for soccer fans, and has now expanded to t-shirts, koozies and stickers. Copes said they are “focusing on awareness” at the moment as they continue to build up a following for their idea.
“We are going to be tackling this as aggressively as we possibly can, but we have to do it at the right pace. If we try to go too big, too soon, we could fail. we want to see this happen and come to fruition.”
With that in mind, the search for a home field, support from city leaders and searching for potential investors are still blips on the horizon. Copes is just happy to be living in the present right now.
“Honestly, if you had asked me where would we be today, I would’ve said we wouldn’t be any where close to where we are now.”
Copes and Killian are aware of the large task ahead of them in bringing a professional team to Birmingham, but the highest level of competition is the ultimate goal.
“We do realize we may have to start with a smaller team and build our way up to that, but we think we could do that,” Copes said. “Ultimately, we’d like to get to MLS (Major League Soccer). We think that would be awesome to have Birmingham’s first major professional sports team here.”
For now, the pair are content with the amount of support they have gained, surpassing the 1,500 “likes” mark on Facebook this evening. They know the growth and support they have seen to this point is only the tip of the iceberg of what could eventually make Birmingham a pro sports town.
“It just speaks to the amount of support that we could have out there, and potential investors and potential people who could be behind this.
“I think people would really like to see this happen. I think they would support it.”