Michael Thomas visits Dove Science Academy

Michael Thomas visits Dove Science Academy

On Tuesday, December 1st, Michael Thomas, the captain of the Energy FC, visited John Bratt's classroom at Dove Science Academy, located off of 23rd and Western in Oklahoma City. 

The Grid was able to tag along and capture the incredible moments. 

A Special Visit

Our purpose for the classroom visit was very special, and not the typical 'appearance' that Michael Thomas is accustomed to. We were on a mission to meet the students who conceptualized and helped construct the legendary 'Survivor Tree' tifo.

[Background on the Survivor Tree]

Within the inner circles of The Grid, members continue to discuss the tifo as a sacred item. An item that can never be 'one-upped.' An item that set the bar so high, that we will need to permanently lower our expectations regarding all future opening match tifo displays.

As soccer supporter culture continues to grow in Oklahoma City, and contributes a new chapter to the city's culture, supporters will always bookmark the 'Survivor Tree' tifo as a critical milestone or achievement; one that when looking back in 10 years will always be referenced. 

Did those students in John Bratt's classroom, one winter morning, truly understand the impact they would be creating within the local soccer community? Did they know, in the moment, that they were going to contribute something so special to the community that, as a symbol, it could define Oklahoma City's soccer supporter culture? We had to go find out. And if they did not understand the value of their gift, we had to let them know..

The 'Survivor Tree' Tifo

The inspiration behind the 'Survivor Tree' tifo was a student's rendering of what a new flag for the city of Oklahoma City could resemble. In a previous (and ongoing) classroom initiative, John Bratt's students teamed up with The OKC Flag Project. When the students' creativity caught fire in discussions over flag designs, and collided with John Bratt's electric passion for soccer, the idea of the tifo was born.

The original flag design had the two horizontal color sections as red and sky blue. A quick exchange of colors to deep blue and Energy FC green, and voila!, the tifo was in its infancy. 

Once the revelation was documented by his students, John Bratt called in for reinforcements. He reached out to his good friend and fellow The Grid member, Kevin Eaton. Between John and Kevin, they were committed to doing everything in their power to ensure the project was a success and great experience for the students.  

During our visit with his students, John Bratt showed Michael Thomas photos from the creation process. 

The students used a projector to cast an outline of the survivor tree on the tifo fabric in the gymnasium. "The stitching of the tifo fabric was going to be very tedious, so we outsourced it," stated John Bratt. He added, "Numerous sections had to be sewed together to make the one expansive piece."

With one student barking, "left, right, up, over a bit, no, the other way, perfect!," the other students used masking tape to outline the tree. 

Before long, the shape of the tree came alive.  Students used small paint brushes and white paint to paint the tree's branches and outline. Once the border was completed, the students called in the artillery, the paint rolls, to finish off the big section. 

By 5:00 pm, all of the students who volunteered had left the gym to catch their rides. The painting had been completed. All that was left was for the paint to dry and for John and Kevin to bask in the victory and share enthusiasm for how The Grid would receive the tifo and how the community of Oklahoma City would celebrate its display on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. 

On April 18, 2015, prior to the match vs. Seattle Sounders II, at Energy FC's inaugural game at Taft Stadium, The Grid rolled out the tifo and pole banner displays in all their glory. The rest is history. 

The 'Survivor Tree' tifo displayed at the April 18, 2015 match vs. Seattle Sounders II 

Any player you speak to who played in that game vs. Seattle will tell you that game was one of their best all season. As Michael Thomas put it, "The tifo was very inspiring to all the players and coaches. We didn't know what to expect about how the fans would turn out for that first game. The tifo set the tone for the season and forced the players to put aside all of their individual agendas and buy into a collective team goal. A goal to go out and fight for Oklahoma City, its heritage, and fans."

From a Player's Perspective

Michael Thomas explained to the students gathered how significant the downtown memorial is to him and his other teammates. When Michael first signed with Energy FC, he made it a point to first visit the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial. He was deeply moved, and grateful that it provides a portal to learn about the character and values of the city. 

Michael also went into great length about the influence supporters and fans have on the outcomes of games. He referenced the storied comeback win of Liverpool over AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League Final (worth the watch). "The fans never stopped singing and cheering," Michael explained. He added, "The players contribute their win to the fans." 

A Soccer Culture

Dove Science Academy, grades 6 thru 12, is a tuition-free community school which enrolls approx. 450 students. Its only organized sports program is soccer. Let that sink in. Soccer, by far, is the favorite sport of its student body. Each year, 90 to 95 players try out to populate their boys and girls teams. They do not have a stadium, or a practice field. They practice in the gym on most days and hope to play their home games at Twidwell Stadium in Spencer, Oklahoma in Spring 2016. 

Check out these bad boys: 

If Dove Science Academy (the "Rockets") were a public school, it would be classified as 2A. However, because many private schools do not support competitive soccer teams, the Rockets must play in the lowest division sanctioned by OSSAA, 4A. As the game of soccer grows in Oklahoma, hopefully the formation of a 3A division can exist. 

What's Next for the Students of Dove Science Academy?

Well, a couple of things.

1) Contribute the Tifo to the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

Michael Thomas and several The Grid officers are committed to helping John Bratt's students get the tifo officially donated to the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. We have some fun ideas on the table on how to incorporate the tifo into the 2016 Memorial Marathon and have the leadership of the Museum visit with the students. 

2) The Formation of an 'Ad-hoc' Teen Advisory Board for The Grid at DSA. 

After learning about the disciplines and best practices of The Grid, specifically our commitment to anti-discrimination and anti-racism, one student was so moved after class that she said the following, "I think it's so cool that The Grid is committed to growing a culture as unique and diverse as the city. I love that you're really trying to give back and add to the city's culture."

I was so floored after the exchange that I immediately asked her, "would you be willing to form a teen advisory board for The Grid with the singular focus on how to attract more diverse fans to Energy FC matches?" Her eyes lit up and instantly looked towards John Bratt as if she had just been given the keys to the Corvette. John Bratt nodded and said, "Let's do it. But we will need to get more students involved." 

The Grid officers will go to the drawing board as well. If the group can fundraise and create a pool of paid tickets (i.e., resources), we can then ask the teen advisory board to find fun ways to attract new fans to the game of soccer. It's a beautiful thought to image Dove Science Academy students hosting new fans to games and teaching them the rules and traditions of soccer. 

How You Can Give Back

If you're as moved as we are, and want to show your appreciation for the students of Dove Science Academy who helped construct the 'survivor tree' tifo, the students asked us to help them gain new supporters for their brand new supporter group, the 'Rocket Battery.' 

The students have mocked-up a scarf. They will be ordered this week.

The group has decided on an $18 purchase price for each scarf. John is working on getting us a sales flyer in the coming days. In the meantime, if you'd like to support the 'Rocket Battery,' or buy a scarf, please make out check payments to "DSA Soccer." Mail checks to Dove Science Academy, ATTN: John Bratt, 919 N.W. 23rd Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73106.


Questions Needed: 'Tell All' Q&A with Energy FC General Manager, Jason Hawkins

On Dec. 6th, Jason Hawkins (full bio), the General Manager of Energy FC, will join The Grid at Skinny Slim's to participate in a 'tell all' interview and conversation. Joe Pugh, The Grid's President, will serve as the moderator during the interview to present members' questions to Jason. 

This is your chance to get Jason Hawkins to spill the beans

This is a 'nothing leaves the bar' type conversation. Jason will have ultimate discretion about what can and cannot be said publicly; however, Jason, in good faith, will do his best to give you a sneak peek into what his typical day looks like and provide some new insights about the 2015 season. 

We're asking all members to submit their questions in advance. This will help Joe get the most out of the time Jason makes available. 

Questions about 2016 contract negotiations and contract details will be thrown out. 

Name *
Name

THE GRID MEMBERS' POTENTIAL REACTIONS TO JASON'S ANSWERS: 


2016 Members Summer Scarf

We're excited to announce the 2016 members summer scarf! This design was voted on and approved by our active members. 

Special thanks goes to one of our members, John Knight for taking the time to design several options for our members to vote on. 

All members who pay their 2016 membership due will receive one of these bad boys as a complimentary gift ($20 retail value).

This is a great scarf to add to your collection. And if you're a first time The Grid member, this is the first scarf you want to own -- you'll get lots of head nods from soccer fans showing you mad respect. 

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A large batch of scarves have been ordered as of November 16, 2015. They will be in hand by mid December 2015. 

JOIN THE GRID TODAY!

Nomination Committee

The directors are very excited to announce that the 2015 nominations committee has been formed and is off and running. Jim Jackson, Dwight Edwards and Donna Sowerby have all volunteered. 

The primary purpose of the nominations committee is to assist members who are interested in nominating themselves for an elected position. Their ultimate objective is to make sure all positions are contested and that the general membership has the time necessary to evaluate each nominee before the scheduled elections. 

If you have any questions, please reach out to any of the nominations committee members and they will assist you. 

Six of the eight elected positions will be up for grabs at this year's annual membership meeting. 

  • Treasurer (Two Year Term)
  • Membership Director (Two Year Term)
  • Committee Chair - Trips (One Year Term)
  • Committee Chair - Gameday Operations (One Year Term)
  • Committee Chair - Merchandise (One Year Term)
  • Committee Chair - Community Service (One Year Term)
 Directors passing over projects

Directors passing over projects

The elected directors' terms will start January 1, 2016. The month of December will be a transition period to let current directors transition projects, documents and permissions. 

If you're interested in running for a position, please complete the 'Intent To Seek Elected Office' form [CLICK HERE]. 

The tentative deadline for nominations is November 21st. Shortly after the deadline, all submissions will be formatted and posted online within a single .pdf file for members to review and make their decisions regarding elections. 

Thank you for your participation in this process in advance. Having contested elections and large, vibrant committees is the best indicator of the health of the group. 


The Grid Officers

#OneVoiceOne City


The Grid, Inc.

As of August 31, 2015, The Grid has officially been incorporated as an Oklahoma Not For Profit Corporation. The Grid's filing status for federal and state tax purposes is a 501(c)(7) Social Club, which is classified as a tax exempt organization. 

This legal structure allows for The Grid to:

  1. offer corporate liability protection to its officers and directors,
  2. ensure that no private individual benefits from the club's net earnings and
  3. create transparency in how it governs itself and remains compliant with government agencies. 

Prior to filing as a 501(c)(7), The Grid was operated as a d.b.a. underneath One Voice One City, LLC, a single member Oklahoma Limited Liability Company. The individual who owns 100% of the prior LLC is (was) required to report all activity on his or her individual tax return and assumed all liability for the business' events.  The prior legal structure made it impossible for The Grid to fulfill its ultimate mission and purpose, which is to allow all of its members to have an equal voice and be able to actively participate in growing Oklahoma City's ever-evolving soccer supporter culture. 

In establishing the new entity, the existing Officers of the previously established informal club were tasked with the responsibility of passing bylaws for the new entity. Much effort was made to research organizations across the country who governed themselves underneath the same legal classification (501(c)(7). Much debate was had on how to form bylaws that could actually be administered considering the attributes and tendencies of its existing, and potential future members. The Officers' back-and-forth arguments and conversations have ultimately led to the finalization of a comprehensive, simple, and well-polished set of bylaws that can scale with the anticipated future needs of the organization and its members. 

On the morning of Saturday, October 3, 2015, the officers ratified The Grid's original version of its Bylaws. Below, please find a link to view the Bylaws of The Grid. 

Organizational Bylaws - The Grid

Below, I will list the most significant items within the Bylaws:

1) Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is made up of eight (8) voting positions. Four (4) of the positions (offices) belong to 'Elected Officers' and four (4) belong to 'Standing Committee Chairs.' 

The Elected Officer positions are President, Secretary, Treasurer and Membership Director and have two year terms with no term limits. 

The Elected Standing Committee Chairs oversee the following respective committees: Trips, Gameday Operations, Merchandise and Community Service. The terms of the Elected Standing Committee Chairs are one year with no term limits. 

The Bylaws require, at a minimum, at least 8 Board of Directors; thus, at least 4 formal standing committees. The Board, with majority approval, can create new standing committees which will also expand the number of Directors on the Board, e.g. 8 to 9, 9 to 10, etc... 

In future periods, depending on the scope of The Grid, new standing committees may be created to address tailgates, content or watch parties, depending on the discretion of future Boards.  

2) Staggered Terms

To help promote the health of the organization in 2016, the Elected Officer terms have been staggered. In 2016, the offices of Treasurer and Membership Director will be up for elections in Nov. 2015. The offices of President and Secretary will be serving their second year of their terms with their terms expiring Nov. 2016. 

During the Nov. 2015 elections, 6 of the 8 Board positions will be up for grabs:

  • Elected Officer: Treasurer,
  • Elected Officer: Membership Director,
  • Committee Chair: Trips,
  • Committee Chair: Gameday Operations,
  • Committee Chair: Merchandise, and
  • Committee Chair: Community Service.

3) General Member Meetings

The organization will promote and underwrite two scheduled general membership meetings per year:

  1. Annual Membership Drive (March)
  2. Season Ticket Renewal Drive (September)

4) Annual Member Meeting

The organization will promote and underwrite an annual meeting each November where Elections will be administered. This is considered the organization's most important meeting. It is critical that a quorum be established to validate ballot results. 

5) Quorum

In order for the general membership to vote on an agenda item, a quorum of fifty (50) members in good standing must be present. If 50 is not present, a vote can not be considered valid. The organization does not allow proxy or absentee voting. 

As the membership grows, the number needed to establish a quorum will need to be adjusted. 

6) Impeachment

In order for a Board of Director to be impeached from office, a petition must be presented with at least 50 signatures of members in good standing. If all of the Directors, excluding the Director in question, find the questioned Director at fault, with cause, the questioned Director will be removed immediately. If the majority of the Directors not in question find the questioned director at fault, with a simple majority vote, the impeachment must be voted on by the general membership with at least 2/3 of the voting quorum affirming impeachment. 

7) Amendments to the Bylaws

In order for the Bylaws to be amended, at least 2/3 of the voting members (quorum) present must vote favorably. 

8) Nominations Committee

Each year the Board will invite three members in good standing who have no intentions of running for an elected office to serve on the Nominating Committee. The committee will be an ad-hoc committee, meaning the committee chair does not have a vote on the Board of Directors. This committee will be responsible for ensuring that all offices up for election will be contested and that members are aware of the procedures on how to nominate themselves and understand the scope and responsibilities of the office(s) they are running for. Nominations will be completed by the respective members who complete the 'Intent to Seek Elected Office' forms. The Nominating Committee will assemble all completed forms (submissions) and make them public record ten (10) days before the annual membership meeting. 

We trust that you'll see value in the approved Bylaws and decide to participate in good faith to elect the next six directors into office. We're extremely excited for the potential value that can be generated for the membership by having dynamic, passionate committees lead by elected committee chairs who have voting powers on the Board. 

If you have concerns with aspects of the Bylaws please document your thoughts and take the actions necessary to influence members to establish agenda items requiring 2/3 vote of the membership in good standing present at scheduled meetings. 

In blog entries shortly to follow we will (1)  introduce members who accepted invitations to join the 2015 nominating committee, (2) disclose expanded position descriptions of the offices up for election and (3) describe processes needed to be completed to establish a supporter as an official 2015 The Grid member in respect to election voting during the Nov. 2015 elections.

Feel free to leave a question in the below comments and an Officer will respond as best they can. 

 

The Grid Officers

#OneVoiceOneCity

 

 

 

 

 

New Website

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To help keep up with the needs of our membership, we have decided to identify a new web solution that will allow for a more comprehensive suite of tools, e.g., integrated stripe payment forms, DISQUS commenting, MailChimp integration and mobile responsiveness. 

We have also secured a domain URL that we feel is more appropriate considering our existing social media handles, www.thegridokc.org. 

Before we promote the new website on public channels, we wanted to get your feedback first. There's no point in promoting a new site if our members do not find it appropriate or valuable in their efforts to advance soccer culture within Oklahoma City. 

Click around, sign up for the newsletter, leave a comment, and recommend a new chant. 

Please carefully review the 'Chants' and 'Partners' pages. If you know of any businesses that have contributed goods or services to The Grid in the past, or are committed to in the future, I want to make sure that we recognize them. If you think a listed chant is obsolete or not relevant, leave a suggestion and we'll get with Tyler and Daniel to discuss. Lastly, feel free to suggest new chants or document chants we sing that are not listed. 

For the specific exercise of collecting feedback on the website, we've purposely emptied the shop of items, unlisted the organizational bylaws and limited information concerning new member registration. If feedback regarding the website is good in the coming days, we'll use the website to introduce organizational documents, 2016 season ticket information, official The Grid merchandise, new membership benefits, and and other information to support the November Annual Membership Meeting where (when) elections will be held. 

We're excited for the potential of this new website. The back-end content management system makes it very easy for directors, committee members and contributors to provide timely, relevant content. The commenting tools and forms also make it easier for members' voices to be heard. We're confident that the website can help advance our purpose, attract new members and ultimately provide more enjoyment to our membership. We hope that you enjoy it as well. 

 

The Grid Officers

#OneVoiceOneCity