A Letter from General Manager Evan Raimist
To the Maryland Bobcats FC family:
2020 has been a unique year, both on and off the field. I hope this note finds you and your family in good health. Although we miss competing and seeing you at our games on the weekends, the biggest focus and priority is the safety of those in our community, around the country, and around the world.
Our club always aims to put our people first – from our players, to our staff, and to our fans. During this time, we have been amazed at how many of you have reached out, supported (both near and far), and purchased jerseys, shirts, and scarfs in support of the club. I wanted to take this time to thank you as any support means the world to the club and myself. 4 years ago, when I joined this club, I never could have dreamed about the journey that the club and myself would embark on.
Forgoing a traditional Fall schedule was a very difficult choice to make. We kept in mind not only the health and safety of our players and staff, but also their families, referees, venue employees, and everyone else that could be impacted by not having strict safety protocols in place. From mandatory COVID tests for players and staff to masking and fervent hand washing and sanitizing, we took all precautions to make sure everyone felt safe and was protected. We still firmly believe that sitting out a traditional Fall season was absolutely the correct decision and instead played high-quality friendlies against opponents we knew also held safety as their number one priority. Our feelings have only solidified as the league is now having amateur teams travel out of state for games without any safety measures in place for players or staff.
We appreciate the support you all still gave us as we looked to make a season out of what we could in preparation for a big 2021.
Now let’s talk about all of the positives that 2020 brought us:
• First Team winning a United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) National Championship (topping off an undefeated season)
• First Team winning the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) Independent Cup Mid-Atlantic region (going undefeated)
• The launch of the Bobcats Youth Program in Fall 2020 with 3 initial teams
• MD Bobcats U16 Gold bringing home the first youth trophy in club history, coming back from 3-1 down to win 4-3 to be crowned SAC Columbus Day Tournament Champions
• First Team defeating Chattanooga FC (another professional team) 1-0
• and of course...
• Joining NISA and bringing professional soccer to Maryland in 2021!
Bringing men’s outdoor professional soccer to Maryland has been a huge goal of the club since it’s inception. While it was a dream for a long time, the work that everyone involved with the club has put in over the past 10 years has led up to making that dream a reality. With all the talent in Maryland and the surrounding areas, it’s only right that this state has a professional team to call its own. We are so excited to be able to bring this family- and community-focused soccer to our state and can’t wait to kick off in NISA.
Now it's almost time for 2021. After the craziness that was 2020, we are really looking forward to what 2021 is going to bring. We are looking forward not only to kicking off in NISA and our first professional season, but also to continue to develop talent while our Reserve team kicks off in the Eastern Premier Soccer League (EPSL). The EPSL will give us and our players the chance to continue to compete at a very high level against other like-minded clubs in the Northeast as well bring players up from our Youth program to see how their development is going.
Joining the EPSL and placing our Reserve Team in the competition allows us to have a top to bottom club that can take a player from our youth program, to our Second Team to continue to work and improve, and ultimately have a chance at a professional contract. Our Reserve Team will help us bridge the gap between youth soccer and professional soccer and will allow us to see if some younger players are ready, both physically and mentally, to take the next step in their soccer careers. With some of the best amateur clubs on the East Coast, introducing Pro/Rel, and keeping costs and travel down to a manageable level, the EPSL will be a great place for players within our club to continue to get high quality games in a professional atmosphere with the potential of earning a professional contract.
I am so lucky to be able to work with this club and with this group of players and staff that I consider family. From exciting games on the field to laughs and good times off of it, work doesn’t seem like work. It has been a great 4 years leading up to this, but I know there is still a lot of work to be done as we make the jump to the professional level. With the incredibly smart, talented, and dedicated team we have at the club, 2021 should be a year full of growth and fantastic experiences.
The pandemic has created a complicated and constantly reality. We urge you to please follow the guidance of the CDC and our state and local health officials. Most importantly, come together and take care of one another (while making sure to socially-distance). We will continue to provide updates as they become available.
There are some very exciting announcements to come in the next few months, and I can’t wait to share them with you. If you have any questions, comments, or just want to say hi, my door is always open. Just send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be in touch.
On behalf of the entire club, I sincerely thank you all, our Bobcats family, for your continued support and loyalty. Wishing you and your loved ones good health, now and always.