Introducing Indy Pro Soccer

A look into Tom Dunmore and Peter Wilt, central pieces of the new NASL franchise
by Doug Starnes   |   Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Checkered Flags – column on Indy NASL (Indy FC) & the Indianapolis soccer scene.On May 11, 1991, Brighton and Hove Albion secured the 6th position and a place in the playoff spots for promotion to the old English First Division with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Ipswich Town.

Knotted at 1 with only injury time remaining and needing all 3 points to get into the playoff spots due to Barnsley’s just completed 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough, Brighton and Hove won a free kick and, with literally the last kick of the match, Dean Wilkins – that’s Wilkins with 338 appearances with only 31 goals to show for them – shooed his teammates away from the ball, stepped up and scored on a curling effort that sent the 12,281 fans in attendance into a whirlwind of frenzied excitement that resulted in the fifth pitch invasion of the day.

What does that have to do with Indianapolis’s still germinating, as-yet-unnamed team to begin play in the NASL in almost exactly one year?

Well, it was the first match Tom Dunmore, Indy Pro Soccer’s first vice president of marketing and operations, ever attended. He has been on an odyssey ever since that game to help both create for others and recapture for himself the excitement, awe and wholly involved wonderment of that first match 22 years ago when he and his school mates sat pitchside and gleefully led all 5 illicit intrusions of the Goldstone Ground.

To wit, Dunmore has served as the chairman of the Chicago Fire’s Section 8 supporters’ group, created and maintained the heavily read soccer blog Pitch Invasion and, more recently, served as one of the founding editors/authors/creative directors of XI Quarterly, a soccer quarterly specific to North American soccer culture, which can best be described as a sort of Journal of the American Medical Association for soccer. This is serious writing and has very quickly set a benchmark for the manner in which the sport is discussed, dissected and debated in the United States.

Dunmore was brought on board in Indianapolis by Peter Wilt, Indy Pro Soccer’s president and general manager, and the first hire of owner, Ersal Ozdemir. Wilt formerly served as CEO of the Chicago Red Stars, the Windy City’s WPS team and held a front office position with the Milwaukee Wave of the MISL.

Most notably however, he served as the president and general manager of the Chicago Fire from 1997-2005, when he helped lead the team to a 1998 MLS Cup championship and 3 US Open Cup championships. 

In contrast to Dunmore, Wilt’s most memorable sports spectator experience came at the 1981 Sugar Bowl when Georgia and Herschel Walker beat Dan Devine’s Fighting Irish 17-10 in the Superdome in New Orleans. Wilt, a self-professed massive fan of whoever is playing against Notre Dame, stormed the field with his brother after the final whistle and, in an epic moment of schadenfreude, congratulated Dan Devine with a gleeful, “Nice job, coach!” 

A Trotsky to Lenin comparison here is probably too much and also freighted with historical baggage, but you get the gist. Dunmore is reserved and contemplative. He chooses his words carefully, states that writing and the introspection inherent therein is what makes him tick and manages to maintain a vegetarian lifestyle in the decidedly animal protein obsessed Midwest. 

Wilt is engaging and expressive, a whirlwind of jokes, anecdotes and impish curiosity. He routinely manages 5 Twitter accounts and responds to a constant deluge of emails while still participating in engaging and relaxed conversation about National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month and DaMarcus Beasley’s jewelry business. And he seemingly already knows everyone in Indianapolis and remembers his name.

To borrow from The Gaslight Anthem, Wilt is a cannonball to a house on Fire. Dunmore is slow like Motown soul. Both men have the chops to make this work and both men are fully committed to fielding a successful, uniquely Indianapolis NASL franchise in 2014. 

As the league’s season has just begun, Wilt and Dunmore will be employing their complimentary styles to ensure Indy Pro Soccer is packaged, oiled and ready to ship this time next year. Already this week, John Koluder, former media man at Real Salt Lake and Chicago Fire, has been appointed director of public relations. And later this month, Indy Pro Soccer will unveil its official name. Team colors, uniforms, a manager and players will follow in the months after.

Here’s to hoping Indy Pro Soccer will soon provide someone his own Brighton and Hove Albion or Sugar Bowl moment.

Doug STARNES

Nationality:
USA
College:
Baylor Univ.
Club Domestic:
Indy Eleven
Club Foreign:
Fulham
A reformed goalkeeper, cheese enthusiast, beer aficionado, and all around unrequited lover of The Beautiful Game, Doug currently resides in Indianapolis and is chomping at the bit to cover Indy Pro Soccer in all of its soon to be glory.
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