Switchbacks FC is gearing up for a fresh new season here in Colorado Springs. “Based on how the players have been performing during these preseason games, we are really excited,” says Ed Ragain, Owner of Switchbacks FC. “The scores have been extraordinary.” Head coach Steve Trittschuh wanted to go younger and faster this season – as he was disappointed in the players’ ability to score in prior years. Last season’s middle of field and backline featured some of the top players in the league, and Trittschuh was able to keep virtually all of them, but he’s made some changes to the frontline. “Our team is better this year than last year. Steve likes everybody running in both the offense and defense; so these younger, faster players in the frontline will yield action-packed results.”
In terms of spring training, the team has had great weather so they were able to condition outdoors for every scheduled meet. The Colorado Springs altitude affords a unique environment to train in, as most teams struggle at this elevation, so training here adds to the conditioning of the players. “These athletes are not big like American football players or some of our basketball players in terms of physical scale,” says Ragain. “It’s a quickness sport and a very strategic sport, but our athletes are as well trained as any other athletes on the planet.”
The Switchbacks FC bring together players from around the world, including athletes from Republic of Cameroon and South Korea. “It’s interesting because we can have four to five different languages on the field, and yet they all speak one common language and that’s the sport,” Ragain says. The talented array of athletes from around the world add varying skills, which make for a riveting game. Teams are limited to seven internationals in order to ensure a balance with American players.
The team has a new stadium naming partner and is now registered under the name Weidner Field. Dean Weidner lives in Seattle but grew up in Colorado Springs and owns several apartment complexes in the area. “They’ve been great partners, and I think Dean wanted a legacy and footprint here in the city, and this is his way of accomplishing that,” Ragain says. Weidner and his leading partners Gregg Cerbana and Robert Carr have extensive soccer backgrounds, and visit frequently to stay involved throughout the season. Existing Security Field signage around the stadium along Barnes, Tutt and Powers will be changed to include Weidner Field; and this key change will be reinforced throughout the season.
Within the stadium Switchbacks FC has secured agreements with a number of new sponsors, and as a part of their sponsorships they’ve added clubs on the field. Accelerated Wealth will have a new tent in the northeast corner, which will provide businesses an exciting space to connect while watching the game. Budweiser Brewery is developing a club that will be active not only during the game, but after as well for interviews with players, coaches, etc. The Wells Fargo military club is growing at a rapid rate, and the team is going to be making some changes to facilitate growth for the military. “This is an important part of who we are as a franchise, and Wells Fargo has been a terrific partner since day one; so we are excited about the growth of this relationship and what that will mean for military personnel,” says Ragain.
This year there is an exciting lineup of promotions for each and every game of the season. Promos include Switchback FC poster giveaways, a Wells Fargo beanie giveaway, a Colorado Technical University kid’s backpack giveaway and a tote giveaway. An attractive line of new apparel is available both at the stadium and at their downtown office. There will also be some new and recurring themed nights such as Galactic Night, 90’s Night, Technology Night, Super Hero Night and Oktoberfest. In addition, three firework events will light up the night sky. Unlike other sports, the Switchbacks actually stay after the game to sign autographs on the field, which is an exciting opportunity for fans to be next to and communicate with some of their favorite athletes. Visiting teams include Kansas City, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Vancouver, San Antonio and more. “It’s always thrilling to compete and engage with these bigger cities and be successful,” says Ragain. Fans are encouraged to go online and check out the schedule of events at SwitchbacksFC.com.
“I am a father of six and also grew an engineering firm for more than 35 years, which was very much like a family for me,” says Ragain. “Being a part of a community and a personal family keeps me inspired in my work and has been very rewarding. And the cool thing about Colorado Springs is that it too has a very strong family culture.” Three of his kids are involved in day-to-day operations with the Switchbacks. Nick Ragain is President, James Ragain is Vice President, and his only daughter Rachael Ragain is the apparel manager.
Ed Ragain has traveled the world and was involved in FIFA soccer worldwide for the last two World Cup tournaments. “Being a consultant for FIFA gave me insight into what they really shoot for in terms of their target business model and how to go about generating excitement; and I’ve been able to bring some of these big picture items down to our culture and our scale here in Colorado Springs.” The short term goal for the Switchbacks is to have an excellent season and win the National Championships. They’ve made the playoffs their first two years, even as the smallest city in the conference, and Ragain attributes much of this success to their world class Head Coach.
For the long term, Ragain has big plans of further involving the team into the community and establishing additional partnerships. Currently, the Switchbacks has partnerships with 45 businesses in and around Colorado Springs, but would like to grow that to 60. They are integrating into the Downtown area through a new partnership with Perry Sanders of 365 Grand Club, who owns both The Mining Exchange and Antler’s Hotel; and will host meetings in their conference rooms from time to time. Other existing partnerships include those with Chris Valentine from Penrose St. Francis and Centura Orthopedic, GE Johnson Construction Company, Wells Fargo, Colorado Technical University, Accelerated Wealth and The Gazette. “We are looking to grow our image. The first year we averaged 2,600 attendees, the second 3,200, and this year we’re hoping to see 3,800-4,000. The league has asked us to be at 8,000 by 2020, which is a challenge for us but these partnerships we continue to establish help us toward that goal,” says Ragain. “We are a wholesome name when people think of sports entertainment, and welcome partnerships as we continue to grow and enrich the city of Colorado Springs.”
To learn more, view the schedule and purchase tickets, visit SwitchbacksFC.com. Also follow them on Facebook @SwitchbacksFC.