- Sincerely, Southern
One girl, many GOALS
Updated: Apr 11
By: Nakya Harris, Editor-in-Chief
Lily Gibbons has always craved respect and order, which was why she almost joined the military.
However, an interview with Tormenta FC president, Darien Van Tassell, changed what Gibbons initially had planned. An interview that would soon make Gibbons the first-ever recruiting coordinator for the Tormenta FC soccer organization.
Gibbons is a Georgia Southern University alumna with a bachelor's degree in communication studies. She graduated in December 2022 and received the job in January 2023.
This is the first time someone is taking on this role, so Gibbons is constantly navigating her way to success. She uses a lot of trial and error in order to become the best at her job. Balancing the tough transition of post-grad and work life, Gibbons illustrates the importance of being open, staying present and gaining confidence. She is one girl with many goals.
23-year-old Lily Gibbons grew up in Augusta, Georgia just one hour and 30 minutes from Statesboro, Georgia. She described herself growing up as the jack of all trades. Karate, guitar, baseball and theater were her hobbies as a child. As a teenager, she was set on being an actor or musician.
“The practical side of my mind conflicted with my dreams,” Gibbons said. “Luckily I found an obscure, relatively cool obsession other than arts, which was soccer.”
In her teenage years, Gibbons became immersed in the soccer world when she watched the U.S. Women’s National Team in the World Cup. Although she did not play soccer, she loved watching the sport.
Entering college, Gibbons’ mindset when choosing a major in communication studies, was that it would be broad enough to choose an array of jobs post-grad.
“I rather enjoyed my major,” Gibbons said. “Great people were in all of my classes and there was this saying I heard recently, all the cool people are communications majors.”
In college, she also interned at Tormenta FC in 2020 where she would later be employed after graduating.
While approaching her last two semesters of college, she thought the military was a reasonable option. However, she mentioned that even though the military gives an individual a lot of security, it also comes with a lot of insecurity. When she looks back on this mindset, she is not sure why she wanted to take this route.
When Gibbons was finally able to graduate, little did she know that one phone call to the Tormenta FC headquarters would jumpstart a potential career.
When making the call and landing an interview with the president of Tormenta FC, Gibbons knew that she needed to do research on the organization. She specifically researched soccer and information regarding the Tormenta FC Academy.
In the interview, she expressed her interest in women's soccer and the growth she wanted to see happen within the organization. She added that she wanted to be a part of it all. Even though she has never played soccer, she wanted to be in a soccer environment. Being open to what she was interested in, what she wanted for the organization, and what she could bring to the table landed Gibbons a recruiting position for the Tormenta FC Academy which caters to kids aged 3 through 19.
“I had the opportunity to have a job in soccer and that alone is something that seems right with me,” Gibbons said.
Her new position involves reaching out to players, parents and coaches. Also, going to events and tabling at schools in the Bulloch County area is an important part of the job. Furthermore, attending soccer games to watch and recruit the best players on the team is crucial. A new chapter for Gibbons was starting. She made the team.
MAKING THE TEAM
I arrived at my first Tormenta FC pre-season soccer game on Feb. 25 to shadow Lily Gibbons in action. It was a partly cloudy Saturday with a high of 70 degrees. Gibbons greeted me near the entrance where I was checked by security and scanned using my cell phone.
“So, like I said before I am still learning what to do,” Gibbons said as we walked further into the stadium. She wore a black Tormenta FC Adidas jersey, khaki shorts, with darkly tinted sunglasses.
We approached the fence that separated the crowd from the players on the field. A steady stream of fans dressed in the organization’s gear entered the stadium. It was 40 minutes until kick-off, so I began to ask her questions.
“What do you usually do at the games,” I asked as we stood alongside the fence.
Gibbons explained that her main job is to promote the academy and speak with parents who are attending the game. She is also a helping hand if anyone needs her. Even though she was told she doesn’t have to attend all games, Gibbons is always willing to help her co-workers on game days while promoting the academy at the same time. It’s a win-win.
I was eager to know more about how she navigates the role of being the first recruiting coordinator. She has no way to look back on the previous work of an individual who once took on her role because she is the only one who has ever been in her role.
“I ask so many questions,” Gibbons said. “I am learning to do a job from scratch and do the best I can do. I try to give myself grace and remind myself that it is a process.”
Her first time recruiting at Southeast Bulloch High School illustrates her gradual confidence and utilizing trial and error. She took notes and watched the game closely. After the game, she is to approach either a player or coach and recommend them for the academy team. However, she was too nervous and did not feel confident. The next game that she attended, she described as awesome and successful. She was able to recruit players and meet coaches.
The best part about recruiting is being able to see the excitement on their faces, according to Gibbons.
“Any time Lily hands out a card to one of the kids, it’s like golden,” Johnnie Sanchez, select academy coach and sales/services intern for Tormenta FC, said. “The kid’s eyes light up and they talk about it for the next few days. She came to Portal [Middle High School] and they are still talking about it. That was two weeks ago.”
Gibbons explained that she did not always have the perfect pitch when approaching coaches, parents and players, but it took time. She is still learning that the most effective way to get recruits for the academy is by speaking with the coaches.
Back at the Tormenta FC stadium, the game started. Gibbons introduced me to the president of the organization and other staff members. We stopped by the merchandise table where I was introduced to Heather De Terra.
“Lily is always really excited to get out and try new things and meet new people,” De Terra said.
As a full-time employee, Gibbons’ willingness to try new things is an everyday effort. Gibbons works close to 6 days a week. A typical busy day includes visiting schools, talking with kids, brainstorming ways to reach out to families at the Tormenta headquarters and then ending her day by attending a game for more recruiting.
According to Jenn Morriss, the director of sales and ticketing for the organization, Lily is creative. She knew that she was perfect for the job because Gibbons is great at coming up with solutions and new ideas. Morris also mentions that Gibbons is a hard worker who constantly worries if she is doing a good job and being productive.
Compared to when she first started, Gibbons said she had no real plan for what she did. Now, in order to represent her position perfectly, she strategically plans her days. A job like this comes with a lot of work, and balancing post-grad life can be challenging. Gibbons describes this transition as tough.
“I am a growing human being that is undertaking a new unfamiliar part of my life,” she said. “I am not going to be perfect but if I tell myself that I am capable of balancing work, life and the ups and downs of what it means to be a young adult. I’d like to think I will get through even the most insurmountable of tasks.”
At the stadium, the sun beamed down onto the field and a few fans scrambled to find shade. Gibbons passionately talked about the plans that she had in store for the academy. Hearing her talk, it was obvious she was open to many ideas in order to help the organization grow as a whole.
When asked if her future was going to be Tormenta FC, she replied that she is a present person taking one day at a time. She plans on staying to see the full development of the organization and its future endeavors. For someone who is making history in her position, she keeps an optimistic attitude. How does she do it?
“Own your confidence,” Gibbons said. “Confidence is perceived as belief in yourself. I am still learning this.”
She also adds that it is okay to have personality and quotes Fred Rogers, “We all have different gifts, so we all have different ways of seeing the world.”
“I’m 23 years old and understand that I am just figuring things out,” she mentioned. “I am not going to ‘crack the code’ immediately.”
I watched as Tormenta FC scored their first goal and the crowd cheered. I immediately thought of Lily Gibbons, the girl with many goals. No matter the circumstance, she will shoot and she will score.