Hear Them Roar: Ric Campbell of Dayton Dutch Lions FC

Hear Them Roar: Ric Campbell of Dayton Dutch Lions FC

Welcome back to #FromTheVault ladies and gentlemen! Today is something of a sad day. This is the last entry in the #FromTheVault series. Which is slightly interesting, since this interview just came out last week. But there is good news with the bad: From now, it’s nothing but fresh, new content!

Noe today’s interview is with Ric Campbell of the Dayton Dutch Lions. They actually reached out to me about doing an interview, and we were able to make things happen to get this out to you. Ric goes into the team’s origin story, and has a great reason for people to get and support local teams, even if it’s not at the highest level. Check it out.

Tell me a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you’re from, what your role is with the Dayton Dutch Lions?

I am Ric Campbell, born and raised in Dayton.  I am a soccer fanatic, started playing the game at the age of ten and continued for 40 years  until full knee replacement three years ago.  Was fortunate enough to have had some minor success in high school and college which allowed me to play this wonderful game around the globe via select teams that played in Europe and Asia.  I played four years of college soccer at NAIA powerhouse, Judson University, the winningest NAIA men’s soccer program in the nation.

I am the Club Director for the Dayton Dutch Lions, have been with the club just over 6 months, but have watched the DDL FC since their arrival in town in 2009.  I oversee the entire operation of our men, women and youth programs.  I have two very talented Dutch directors who handle our marketing operations and soccer operations, Koen Driessen and Sid van Druenen.  These gentlemen have been with the club for numerous years and have established the foundation from which we currently operate.

When did you first get interested in soccer in general and helping run a soccer team in particular?

I fell in love with the game while playing at a young age and that passion has just grown each and every year.  I was a multi-sport athlete in high school, but quickly realized that soccer was the game that I wanted to pursue.  Right at the end of my college career, I had a bad knee injury that derailed my aspirations to play at the next level.  So, I began coaching soccer.  Over the past 30 years, I have coached at every player level except professional. I have always done a pretty good job at
building programs and helping teams reach their potential. This past fall, I was approached with an opportunity to work with the Dutch Lions FC.  After meeting with our President, Dr. Suresh Gupta, I was excited to join the Lions as see if we could take the club to even greater success.

Can you recap the history of the Dutch Lions for me? I know it’s a little bit different then most people would expect.

The Dutch Lions FC is the work of our club founder, Mike Mossel.  Mike attended college at Xavier University where he played soccer for the Musketeers.  He then went on to play professionally which included time locally with the Cincinnati Riverhawks.  His love for the game led him to the creation of the Dutch Lions.  Mike, along with a soccer partner from the Netherlands, brought the idea to Dayton when the Dayton Dutch Lions FC LLC purchased the license to play professional soccer in the United Soccer Leagues (USL).  We had four semi-successful USL PRO seasons from 2010-2014.  We sold our pro license to FC Cincinnati in early 2015 and played in the Premier Development League last year.

Besides our Men’s team, that plays in the USL PDL Division, the club also added a Women’s team in 2011 that played in the W-League of the USL until 2015 and in the WPSL in 2016.

The club in Dayton has an official partnership with the Dutch pro side of FC Twente and affiliations with the Columbus Crew and FC Cincinnati.

Our club is about developing players to their full potential and giving them a chance to play professionally.  The good news is that we are delivering on that goal.  One of our goalkeepers from last season was drafted by the MLS Colorado Rapids this spring.  Several of our women’s players have been signed professionally overseas and one of our youth academy players is on a one-year trial in England pursuing his dream.

We have been successful to date and look for even greater success in the days ahead.

Having never been to Dayton, how would you describe your city to an outsider?

Dayton is a hard-working town where you can be successful if you are willing to give the effort.  We have all the positives of any major city…..wonderful arts, great sports teams and communities that want to support the area.  I believe in Dayton.

What does the soccer scene in Ohio look like?

Soccer in Ohio is strong and well respected throughout the country. We are represented in MLS by the Columbus Crew, in USL PRO by FC Cincinnati and in the PDL by the Dayton Dutch Lions and the Cincinnati Dutch Lions. Our colleges and club teams do well in their respective divisions and tournaments throughout the United States.  A strong pool of talent is being developed within our state lines.

Tell me a little bit about the league you’re in, the Premier Development League. What kind of advantages does it have over other leagues that you could be playing in?

The PDL is exactly that ~ a development league for players. It is widely accepted as the top-level men’s amateur soccer competition in the United States, although it has no official designation from US Soccer. It provides a proven path to pro in North American soccer and the PDL is an important stepping-stone for top professionals now playing throughout the world. Seventy percent of all MLS draftees have PDL experience, and nearly 200 former PDL players competed during the 2015 MLS season. Among the PDL’s alumni are U.S. Men’s National Team members Brad Guzan, DeAndre Yedlin, Gyasi Zardes and Geoff Cameron.

This track record is what top players are looking for in their progression and we feel it is a perfect fit for our club goal to help players reach their potential and to be the gateway to professional soccer.

Does the PDL have a long term vision for their league and your teams role in that future?

The PDL currently has 67 teams playing this summer throughout North America.  Each team is provided outstanding support from the league staff and the future is bright for the league and our team.  We play, in what I believe, to be the hardest division in the league. The 2014 and 2015 PDL Champions have come from the Great Lakes division and we look forward to competing for a playoff berth this summer.

Why should the average soccer fan, both in Southwest Ohio and across the US, care about your team?

I am confident that we will play an entertaining style of soccer with the top prospects available to us.  Our roster is filled with a combination of Division I college talent and numerous international players who want to be a part of our community this summer.  I believe the average soccer fan will enjoy spending an evening with the Dayton Dutch Lions FC…..outstanding soccer, excellent value and great fun.

Cast a vision for me: Where do you want to see the Dayton Dutch Lions in 5 years?

I see our coaching staff continuing to create an environment where top players will be able to grow and reach their potential.  We will be competing for conference championships and looking to qualify for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup each season.  Our stands will be filled with enthusiastic fans who enjoy the effort and commitment made by our entire organization.  We will be the gateway to professional soccer.

Time for some Bonus Questions. What’s your favorite book, regardless of genre? 

Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul by Bill Hybels. It is a wonderful guide to help us live a simpler life; anchored by the priorities that matter most and to bring about a restoring of your spirit for the challenges of each day.

Favorite soccer player. One past, one present.

George Best from the past and Christiano Ronaldo present…..their ability to be magicians with the ball at their feet is mesmerizing.

What’s your favorite league and/or team to watch? 

I am a fan of the EPL and specifically, the struggling Manchester United Red Devils.

Where can people find out more about yourself and the team?

You can follow the club on our website  www.ddfc.com

What would you like to say to the people reading this article about why they should get out and support the lower levels of American soccer?

In Dayton, we have one of the most successful minor league teams in baseball, the Dayton Dragons, and it is fun to know that I watched numerous major league ball players when they were starting their careers.  The Dayton Dutch Lions are doing the same for soccer.  We have some of the best talent who are at the start of their soccer careers and you have the chance to watch them play as they start their journey.

Ric, thanks for taking the time to do this. If you are enjoying the content I’m putting out, I’d encourage you to click here to Follow me on Twitter, or here to Like the page on Facebook.  And if you’d like even more content coming your way on the regular, click here and sign up for the weekly newsletter, containing fun articles and videos, sometimes covering soccer, sometimes not. Make sure to spread the word. Share interviews, tell friends about the blog, those kind of things. I can’t accomplish my goal of maximum exposure for all levels of the American Soccer Pyramid without YOU. Until next time, Stay Loyal, Support Local.

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