The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

Beyond the Pitch: How Vermont Green is Destined for More

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Molly Parker
Molly’s illi for the Vermont Green column

The date was July 7. The Vermont Green faced the Western Mass Pioneers for the second time this season, the first matchup ending in a disappointing 0-1 loss for the Green. This match, if won, would give them the points needed to be a contender for the league’s playoffs. 

The hard-fought first half resulted in no goals from either side. Green players Felipe D’agostini, Yaniv Bazini and Giorgio Probo all attempted shots that were off-target but the Green remained in the game with another 45 minutes to go. 

By the 80th minute, Vermont struggled to keep the ball off their half, but the score remained 0-0 with enough time to score and have a fighting chance at playoffs. 

A misplayed pass left the ball in the possession of Western Mass, who played the ball to Mamadi Jiana at the 18-yard line where he struck and gave the Pioneers a pivotal lead. 

The rattled Green had little time on the clock to strike back and make an impact. One last substitution is made: Captain Jake Ashford for Daniel Pacella. 

There were a couple more attempts at a comeback, but to no avail. 

Vermont Green 0, Western Mass Pioneers 1. 

Though, this is hardly a story about soccer. 

Founded in October 2021, Vermont Green Football Club joined USL League Two and filled a gap in the Vermont soccer system, launching their inaugural season in May 2022. 

Although this league operates as a way for collegiate athletes to compete at a high level in their off-season, their goals extend into much greater things. Environmental justice is woven into every fiber of the club: partnerships, apparel match day operations and beyond.

Fans sitting atop the silver bleachers can look out and see the vibrant green home kits with pink and yellow flowers dancing across the turf in the floodlights. The ball soaring through the air guides their eyes to watch it hit the back of the net. Behind the goal is a message that is hard to miss: “Climate Justice Is Social Justice.”

Interning for Vermont Green this summer was one of the most incredible experiences I have been a part of. In my past few years at UVM and even back home in Massachusetts, I have never seen such a vibrant community come together and rally around not only a sport but the cause behind it. 

The Virtue Field bleachers were littered in green for the season opener sellout on May 26, a beautiful summer night. Twenty-five hundred fans were ready to kick off the second year of the club. 

Good weather was not the norm for the rest of the season: rain game came after rain game came after rain game. And yet, the fans still showed up, the boys played their hearts out and the sense of community did not falter. 

Young fans run on the concourse during a rainy game.  (Alex Wohl)

The last match of the season, scheduled for Sunday, July 16 against Boston City FC, was another of these overcast days. While we were in our pre-match groove as the bleachers were filling up with eager fans, dark clouds began to loom over Virtue Field. We soon had to announce a 30-minute lightning delay and evacuate to a safer area until the weather cleared. Each lightning strike nearby brought the possibility of a cancellation closer to reality.

It was a horrible feeling thinking that the final match of the season would get canceled and this community would not be able to have one last hurrah. Finally, though, the clouds parted and fans poured back into the stadium with energy and excitement that was palpable. The threat of cancellation seemed to only have made it stronger. There was nothing more exemplary than this display of community and resilience to wrap up the season.

Fans re-enter Virtue Field after lightning warnings delay the soccer match.
(Spenser Powell)

After my first match in the press box, I was in awe of the widespread support a seemingly small club was receiving. As I started seeing the bigger picture, though, it became evident why this was. There were dedications to different aspects of justice shown in the match themes such as Pride Night, Juneteenth Night and Renewable Energy Night, and the beauty of the club does not stop there.

Maple Man of the Match, Alonzo Clarke, chugs a
container of maple syrup as he is cheered on by his teammates.
(Josh Wallace)

 

This club is the afternoons that the interns, players and founders spend at the King Street Center playing soccer, basketball and dodgeball with the kids.

It’s the discussion of how to be active citizens when it comes to climate justice. 

It’s the players who pour their hearts out on the field and show up for the community the same way the community shows up for them.

It’s the partnership with Juba Star FC, a local Somali Bantu-founded organization that works on making soccer more accessible, especially to New Americans.

The Vermont Green-Juba Star friendly was one of the most heartwarming parts of the season, where there were multiple Maple Men of the Match—think MVP with a very Vermont twist. The profits from these ticket sales were split between the two clubs, a way of showing support in expanding the sport.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The club is the Green Mountain Bhoys, the supporter group formed out of a social media account made as a joke by Tyler Littwin

The players run to the Green Mountain Bhoys after every win, hopping up on the railing decked out with flags representing the international players, to celebrate with one another. They are the loudest voices you will hear at any match. 

With drums, megaphones and clever chants in hand, they take time out of their schedule to drive hours to away games and cheer on the Green. Sometimes, they gather to watch the streams hosted by Ian Bailey downtown at Vivid Coffee, a sponsor of the club. 

It’s the countless fans from around the world who have taken the leap and joined a community a whole ocean away—seriously, I have packed orders that have been shipped to England, Ireland, Australia, Spain and many more countries.

It’s the pickup soccer played by interns, founders, volunteers, sponsors, the PA announcer Tom and other community members.

Green Mountain Bhoy, Tyler Littwin celebrates the last match of the season with a green flare stick. (Alex Wohl)

 

A group of the Vermont Green family after a game of pickup soccer. (Mahder Teferra)

It’s the press box, which can be a chaotic congregation of volunteers and interns stopping by to watch the game or get a break from the rain. We relish in PA announcer Tom’s commentary and enthusiasm.

Players not rostered for the match sit and cheer on their teammates from a different side of the pitch. Founder Matt Wolff and I often look at each other concerned when the music starts to glitch over the speakers. The door to the next room, where the incredible play-by-play commentator, Brian McLaughlin, and the NSN production team are located, is often open, allowing us to enjoy each other’s company.

It’s the support shown by fans when the floods devastated our state. They came together to donate hundreds of dollars at Trivia Night and pool together relief items to be collected at the last match. 

The club is the interns—Arthur Clayon, Captain Rudolph and Leo Khadduri—who rock the merch tent and set fans up to look classy. The club is Zora Flash, who runs ticketing, welcoming fans to paradise. The club is Ella Gazo, who wrangles up ball kids and runs halftime shows that often feature Captain singing—a real treat. 

It’s the photographers and videographers who capture every moment so perfectly. It’s the volunteers who jump up to help with anything needed to make match day run smoothly, especially those who stuck around for most of the games and became family.

It is the founders—Sam Glickman, Matt Wolff, Patrick Infurna, Keil Corey and Colin Kelly—who made their dream a reality and opened up the door for Vermont to create a community such as this one. And for that, we are forever thankful. 

Founders, staff, interns and volunteers gather for one last post-match of the season.
(Spenser Powell)

The sun may have set on the season earlier than we had hoped, but the community we built is priceless. What a sunset we were blessed with in the last match, too; the post-storm sky, bold and brilliant, was nothing short of perfection.

A picturesque sunset at the last match of the Vermont Green 2023 season. 
(Spenser Powell)

We will be back stronger and hope you will join us. Vamos todos juntos and forever, Up the Green.

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About the Contributor
Molly Parker, Illustrations Editor
(She/her) Molly Parker is a senior studio art and anthropology double major from Hopedale, Mass. She had been a member of the illustrations team since the spring of 2020 before becoming editor of the section in the spring of 2023. Molly also creates prints and zines that she displays in the Burlington area as well as her hometown. Apart from illustrating and creating art, she loves watching horror movies, cooking and crocheting. Email [email protected] to get in touch with Molly.