You can find the Rhythm’s GoFundMe campaign here.
Header photo from file. Tim Sullivan/Club and Country
As the nation emerges from a global pandemic, soccer may not be foremost among everyone’s concerns. For the Nashville Rhythm – the team’s local amateur women’s side – though, it’s the primary concern at this point. It will shock exactly nobody to learn that running an amateur team is not a huge money-making proposition. The team has to rely on some of its local connections to keep the ship running.
So when one of those connections dries up (for reasons outside anyone’s control), it makes life very difficult. Club owner/General Manager Obed Compean has been able to take advantage of his work with Father Ryan High School to secure reasonable rates to rent the school’s main stadium for the Rhythm’s training sessions and matches in the past. The high school had to make an unexpected replacement of its turf field at the facility, and expenses rose as the Rhythm has to seek out more expensive options elsewhere.
“They give me a huge discount because I coach at Father Ryan, with Boys and Girls soccer and other things that I help out with,” Compean explained. “The rate that I get for training and for games is very reasonable. They’re redoing the turf, so I don’t have access to the cheaper rate.
“We’re using a facility out in Lebanon three times a week to do that and games. It’s extra cost that I wasn’t planning on having, but everything comes out of my pocket. The few sponsors that we get annually, it’s minimum. I am grateful for anything that I get from any sponsor – whatever the dollar amount is, we treat it as a major sponsor.”
Travel costs have also exceeded the budget so far this year. A national rental-car shortage at the tail end of the coronavirus pandemic has hit the Rhythm, as well. In addition to players having to shuttle back and forth to Wilson County for their training sessions, even finding a passenger van to get the team to road contests in Chattanooga, Huntsville, Ala., and metro Atlanta has been all-but impossible.
“Travel’s always expensive – a van, or a couple cars or something – and it’s difficult to ask the girls to carpool all the time,” Compean explained. “Trying to find a van to rent is impossible in Nashville. It’s always jam-packed – everybody’s booked up.
“Enterprise in Nashville, all their big fleet fans have an agreement for Metro government and they don’t have anything available. Enterprise in Lebanon – where they normally get vans for Cumberland University – they don’t have anything now. Scott [Davidson, the Rhythm’s head coach is also the head coach at Cumberland] doesn’t know if he’ll be able to get them for the Fall.”
With a couple financial difficulties for the club coming to a head, Compean reluctantly -through the encouragement of a friend – started a GoFundMe campaign with the goal of purchasing a 15-passenger van to ensure that the club will have reliable transportation to its matches, for the remainder of 2021 and beyond.
Hesitant to give the impression that any funds would go to line his pockets, he only went to crowd-funding as a last resort.
“I’ve seen too many where people are asking for money and then later you see pictures of them on a vacation,” he said with a wry laugh. “My vacation – if I had a vacation – is during the Summer, watching these girls play. Anything I build up through the year goes to this team.
“If I can find something that I can get a 15-passenger van at a good price, that’s the plan. We’ll have it for away games and all that. Hopefully get something at auction – I have some friends with connections that we may be able to get a deal. If it’s a couple thousand more dollars, I’ll do what I’ve got to do out of pocket.”
Running soccer clubs in this country at all but the highest levels must be a passion project – it certainly won’t be considered a money-maker for the vast majority of owners. That’s the case for Compean. The GoFundMe campaign isn’t necessarily an issue of life-and-death for the Rhythm in the short-term, and possibly not even in the long-term. But a little more financial security could certainly help.
After all, survival isn’t the only goal. The continued growth of the game – and perhaps someday participating in the highest level of women’s soccer in the country – are more distant goals for Compean and the Rhythm.
“We’ve survived, I’ll survive either way this year, some way or another,” he said. “I’m not going to go ahead and not have a team this year or next year because of something financial – I’ll do whaty I have to do to make it happen, and we’ll still survive.
“Obviously, the big picture is to hopefully at some point – once the talks get there – to have an NWSL team in Nashville. Whether the Rhythm get basically bought out to have the opportunity to get there ourselves, or if we become an entity that feeds into an NWSL team here or something. That’s the big picture: to get to where we can be a part of the NWSL or a small part of a franchise that’s here.
“Whatever we can do to help facilitate or do, I’m willing to do anything that we can to try to continue the dream, and continuing to grow women’s soccer in the whole US – but especially in Nashville.”
The local soccer community has an opportunity now to stand up and help the Rhythm get a step closer to that goal.
“We appreciate it more than we can ever put into words,” he said.
If you don’t have the opportunity to help financially, there’s another obvious way you can continue assisting the Rhythm: make it to a game. The club is back in home action June 13 in Murfreesboro at Siegel Soccer Complex, and will return to Trevecca Nazarene for the final two home contests of the regular season June 20 and 27.