Is there really any doubt? There's one Orlando City fan who has been featured prominently in local and national advertising and probably made a cameo in every match of the season. Yes, you guessed it: I'm talking about the Orlando Unicorn.
I have to say that it was the Orlando Unicorn's distinctive style and personality that gave me the idea to go with my tophat look for every tailgate and match, both in the stadium and at viewing parties. I know there are lots of great fans with wonderful senses of match-day style. Some of my friends are members of a kilt-wearing group of the Ruckus that call themselves the "Lady Bug Brigade," and a lot of other fans are unique for their distinctive game day accessories (one of my favorite bartenders is the Jamaican Flag guy at every match). But for my vote, it's got to be the Unicorn.
The Unicorn was kind enough to take some time to answer a few questions for The Lion's Teeth on being named our 2015 Orlando City Fan of the Year.
- For those who haven't seen it before, can you give my readers the "origin story" for the Orlando Unicorn or point them to where they can find it?
Here is a brief history on the origin of the unicorn. One day when I was 14 I went to Universal and won an awesome unicorn stuffed animal at a carnival game in the old Jaws attraction. When my older sister came to visit that year, I showed her the unicorn and asked if she could make it into a hoodie for me.
She conditionally obliged saying, "If you make your first national cut when I'm here then I'll do it." Later during her visit I swam at a meet we called "Senior Champs" which basically served as the Florida State Championships for year-round swimming. I swam a time of 2:09.24, good enough for national distinction and boom! I wore the unicorn on the pool deck that night.
- How did you find out that Orlando City would be promoting the MLS inaugural season through using fan images and that you would be one of the fans represented in their campaign?
If I recall correctly, the front office contacted the supporter groups and asked them to encourage their members to show up to the studio and take photos for OCSC's campaign. Of course this seemed like a really fun opportunity so I went. They shot some photos and boom! I was 50 feet tall screaming at passing cars on I-4. What a time to be alive!
- What was your favorite Orlando City match of the 2015?
I have to say that the opening match was my favorite: 62,510 people can't be wrong. The energy in there was phenomenal! However, I must also say that the match against Sporting KC was fun for several reasons: I brought my mom for her birthday, OCSC won, my mom decided to keep coming to home matches, and OCSC kept winning at home. Not a bad series of events!
- What was your favorite "Orlando Unicorn" moment of 2015?
My favorite part of any match day is making it into the stands and screaming my damn head off with The Wall! Pregame festivities are always great as well. Saying hello to friends, high-fiving the kiddos, drinking beer; it's just a great community and I think that the strength of our community is the foundation for The Wall. So I guess my favorite "Orlando Unicorn" moment would be greeting new people and seeing them join a supporter group. Also, Rachel Bonnetta finding me so she could take a selfie with me.
- What did you think of the attendance and crowd energy this season? Did it meet your expectations?
I'll admit that I thought it was a stretch to expect 62,000 fans to show up for the opener. But after that, it didn't seem to shocking at all really. I think that once people come to a match, it's hard for them not to return. OCSC is a helluva drug!
- For anyone that missed out on attending Orlando City matches in 2015, what is the biggest reason they should come out to matches next year?
Top three reasons to attend OCSC matches:
1) Become a part of a brilliant community with friends that would do anything for you.
2) Support a local club that has truly earned its place in the league.
3) Burn thousands of calories jumping, sweating, singing, and shouting.
- Did you follow international football/soccer before Orlando City came to town, or did you fall in love with the sport through the local team?
I was the typical American soccer fan before Orlando City entered my life. Basically the World Cup was my whole exposure with college matches peppered in the interim. Turns out, more soccer equals more fun.
- If the unicorn represents a sort of "totem" or "spirit" animal for you, then what would the spirit animal be for the following OCSC personalities: Kaka, Cyle Larin, Phil Rawlins, Inchy, Brek Shea, Tom Traxxler?
Kaka - Lion. Is there any doubt? He's a leader; he's a force; he's a legend!
Cyle Larin - Cyle is some kind of big cat. Silent, fast, powerful. So let's pair him with a puma, tiger, leopard, whatever.
Phil Rawlins - Phil is like the wise owl from the Tootsie Roll commercials except way cooler. Instead of "how many licks", Phil will tell you how many sips to the bottom of the beer.
Coach Heath - Hawk. He watches patiently, and can seem unexcited. Then suddenly, he will defy that persona and explode leaving his prey pretty screwed.
Brek - This guy has to be some kind of monkey, right? From his speed and nimbleness on the field to his off the field antics, he just seems to be high energy and everywhere.
Tom Traxxler - I've never had the opportunity of personally meeting Tom despite hearing him on the coaches show and Soccercast. But knowing what I know, I'll say he's another wise animal, like a learned turtle, somehow a cousin to that wise owl.
- Are there any social media feeds where you want people to follow you, or are there any web sites, projects, or personal causes you would like my readers to know about?
Of course, people can follow me @OrlandoUnicorn on Twitter, Instagram, and if you want to see one million photos of my cat, on Snapchat as well. As for causes, again I encourage people to join a supporter group. As a member of the Ruckus I am proud to help in Ruckus Cares events and I know the ILF (Iron Lion Firm) does great work in the community as well. In the end, it doesn't matter which group you join because you're going to want to get involved and that ultimately benefits our great community.
Any final remarks you wanted to make, Unicorn?
That's about it form the unicorn. This season has been amazing! I would like to thank the Ruckus for welcoming me into their group years ago and bringing me into their community and family. I would also like to invite anyone that reads this or sees me around to say hello, cheers a drink, and share a hug, y'all are welcome to join the family too!
I want to thank the Unicorn again for taking the time to share some of his thoughts with us. I think you can see now why he was my choice for Orlando City Fan of the Year in 2015. The passion, the excitement, and the sheer joy in the fan culture is one of the things that drew me to want to follow and write a blog about Orlando City, and the Orlando Unicorn is a great ambassador of our fan base to the rest of MLS and to the whole soccer world.
What about you? Who is your Orlando City fan of the year and why? Is it someone who inspired you to follow the team or someone who made your match day or tailgate experience better, or someone who helped you learn more about the club and the sport? Let me know in the comments!