Triumph — that’s what the leadership of Greenville’s newest professional soccer team hopes to do.
Greenville Triumph will be the Upstate’s newest venture into the world of professional soccer, nearly two decades after two of the city’s former professional soccer teams, the Greenville Lions and the South Carolina Shamrocks, folded from low profits.
Started by entrepreneur Joe Erwin and his team at Erwin Creates, the Greenville Triumph name and navy/Kelly green colors were unveiled publicly Thursday at Pour Taproom.
The franchise was awarded to the Greenville group by the United Soccer League in March after the organization announced it would start a new Division III league. At the time, Greenville was the third team announced for the division — now, the list has grown to include six teams across the United States and Canada.
Until now, the team called itself Greenville Pro Soccer.
Doug Erwin, vice chairman of the franchise, said the group started with about 20 name ideas before slowly whittling it down to Triumph with community input via focus groups and surveys.
“We wanted it to be something that was reflective of the community,” Doug Erwin said. “It was really about making sure we engaged the community in the process.”
Doug Erwin said the idea for the name came from the Upstate’s ability to reinvent itself after what seemed to be the decline of the South amid the fall of textile industries.
“You look at where the city was in the middle of the century — we were the textile capital of the world, and as the textile industry started a seismic shift overseas and people started boarding up factories and laying off workers, and the downtown kind of fell into disrepair — I think it would have been easy to watch the region just kind of continue to go downhill,” Doug Erwin said. “But the spirit of the people of the Upstate to reinvent ourselves and pick ourselves back up after facing adversity, to reinvent the region as an international manufacturing hub, to reinvent the downtown to become one of the most desirable, vacationable small towns in America — one of the best places to live and raise a family — speaks to the triumph and spirit of human will.”
Chris Lewis, president of the Triumph and past president of the Greenville Swamp Rabbits hockey team, said they hope to provide an experience to the community that goes beyond a soccer game.
“A sense of togetherness in terms of the community is what helped create that major triumph for the city to get it where it is now,” Lewis said. “We think that this team can be a vehicle for gathering people together and creating that sense of togetherness and community to create whatever the next triumph is for Greenville.”
Lewis said the blueprints for a successful franchise are already here with the popularity of the Greenville Drive, and the hope is to reach a variety of people with soccer because of its international popularity.
“This community is so diverse and inclusive and has such a rich international flavor, it really is a good fit for Greenville,” Lewis said. “Oftentimes, a team succeeds by sort of transcending the game.”
The team isn’t just about a brand or a game — Doug Erwin said it’s about uniting the community.
“As you look at how the name relates to soccer, or any sport for that matter, triumph being the goal on the field, we think it’s just a name that embodies the spirit of Greenville and of the entire Upstate,” he said.