This year has been a good year for The Lion's Teeth. We had a lot of fun tailgates and made a number of new friends and gained a few hundred followers in 2015. But as I look back at the season, there is more I'd like to do with the blog next year.
More Fun Features
Among the fun features I had in 2015 were posts on tailgate menus and recipes that my group enjoyed this season. At the beginning of the year we decided to create weekly menus centered around foods related to the visiting team's city. It was fun and we came up with a lot of tasty and interesting dishes, but it did keep me from getting around to too many of the other tailgates like I wanted. For instance, I only got by the Mane Street tailgate area once, and I also only was able to attend only one tailgate with my friends in the Ruckus supporters group. Next year I'd like to do more with the blog in terms of focusing on the tailgate scene around the whole Citrus Bowl and not just in our group.
More Fan Voices
I'd also like to get more fan voices involved in the blog. During the season I had two guest posts, and in my season wrap-up I included some content from my "Fan of the Year" recipient. Going forward, I'd like to do more fan profiles and share more about the community of fans and supporters that are growing up around Orlando City's three club teams: the MLS side, the USL team, and the NWSL team.
Another thing that I would like to do is to recruit two more fan voices to write about the OCB and NWSL teams in the Orlando City club family, and possibly recruit a third new voice to write about the Academy. In general I'm seeking "fan" voices, although for the Academy columnist I would be thrilled to find a young player/writer whose parents would permit him or her to submit essays for the blog, since it might be helpful to build a portfolio of their writing as they prepare for college and beyond.
Early on, I realized that there are plenty of "hard news" blogs about Orlando City as well as one of the best beat writers for MLS working in our town (Paul Tenorio). Paul and the news blogs are staffed by people paid to be professional writers or who have a lot more time on their hands than I do to attend practices and press conferences, meet with team leaders in their offices, and follow every soccer news source from around the world.
Specifically, to cover OCB I'd like to find one new fan voice who has season tickets to OCB and lives in the Melbourne area to focus on writing weekly match and tailgate reviews and updates about the OCB team. I would want to recruit someone who can write about the gameday experience, the atmosphere of tailgates and supporter culture for the OCB side, as well as their personal reflections, observations, and reactions to the game. Who is playing well? Who seems to be struggling? Who should the coach play more? What frustrates you about the matches? What makes you hopeful about the performance of the team? Throughout the season I managed to publish between one and three posts a week and probably spent between two and five hours a week in total on the blog. I would expect about the same of anyone else, but wouldn't ask them to do any more.
And to cover the NWSL team I really hope I can find a female fan voice--perhaps a woman who has played soccer competitively in high school or college and can bring a more educated fan's perspective to the game. As with the OCB correspondent, I'd hope to find someone with season tickets that can write about tailgating and the gameday experience, and can bring their opinions, observations, and reflections to bear in the essays they write. Again I would not be looking for someone who would have to research hard news stories, but would just want to dedicate a few hours a week to the coverage.
Finally, to cover the Academy scene, I think it would be ideal to find a young player/writer to cover the Academy from the perspective of a participant (with the permission of their parents and coaches, of course). If there are some rules that would prevent participants from writing about their experience while they are active participants, then perhaps the parent of an active participant in the Academy who attends all of their child's matches would be able to write about the experience for the blog on a weekly basis.
More Fun and Games
I've also recently been introduced to an amazing and fun online game that I think would be great to find a way to include in the blog. I think it will be a great way to involve other people in some friendly competition throughout the season, but I still have to think a little bit about how I best want to do that. So I'll write more about that in a future post.