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Why Detroit City takes inspiration from the Bad Boys-era Pistons

By NATHAN STEINWASCHER, Detroit City FC, 04/28/22, 1:55PM EDT


The Spirit of Detroit City

Author - Nathan Steinwascher
Nathan Steinwascher
Detroit City FC
April 28, 2022

In this game, when you win, there’s a wave of different emotions that run through your mind in the aftermath.

Elation, relief, excitement, exhaustion, the whole deal.

When the final whistle blew at Keyworth two weeks ago, and we as Detroit City FC had succeeded in knocking off the Columbus Crew – the first Major League Soccer team we’d ever faced – in the Open Cup, there was one emotion that overrode the others.


When I thought about how much work the club and everyone involved has put into the past 10 years to get to where we are today, for us to then go out and beat our first ever MLS opponent, for the supporters, and club ownership, it was validation.

This is this is what happens when you work as hard as you do for 10 years, and you lose as much sleep as you lose for 10 years, to make it happen.

This is Detroit, where we're always going, we're always striving and working for something. 

Growing up here, a kid from Sterling Heights, we had those great blue-collar teams.

Just look at all the teams we've had that have won championships – the ‘84 Tigers, the Red Wings that won three Stanley Cups in 10 years, Ben Wallace and the ‘04 Pistons and, of course, the Bad Boys themselves, the 89-90 Pistons. The overall character in those locker rooms captured and embodied the spirit of our city, bringing the desire to fight and the determination to really get what you want out of everything you're doing.

Photo courtesy Jon DeBoer / Detroit City FC

That was the way I was raised, too. I mean, I'm very driven, motivated. I push for things I want.

You might not realize it, but my family roots go back to Peru. And my grandmother, Carmen, was always big on how we carried ourselves around other people. Mi Abuela drove good morals and principles into us when we were kids.

We had a very big extended “family”, like a Peruvian American club we were part of that we saw on every holiday. Everything we did as a family, we were representing her name. So, from a young age, I was firm in the knowledge that how you carry yourself is very important and how you drive yourself toward your goals is very important.

That’s how we are at Detroit City. In the six years I’ve been here, the way this club has climbed up the ranks to where it is today is a testament to not only the club on the soccer side, but the ownership and how they've run it. No shortcuts, just honest hard work. I think it connects with the community.

In the six years I’ve been here, the way this club has climbed up the ranks to where it is today is a testament to not only the club on the soccer side, but the ownership and how they've run it. No shortcuts, just honest hard work.

Then of course, I tip my cap to the supporters and how they've driven the traction this club has gotten and helped us succeed. The overwhelming support this club's gotten from the supporters and the community as a whole, it really is surreal. I think it's a story that you don't see in American sports anymore. 

Photo courtesy Jon DeBoer / Detroit City FC

Add in my story to go with it, going from amateur to pro and to nights like the win against the Crew, it’s been a win-win. I'm just so fortunate that I landed in the right spot at the right time and took this road, this journey with the club.

For me, it goes back to what makes Detroit as a community tick, understanding that nothing's handed to you, and enjoying the work that it takes to get what you want in the end.

That night against the Crew was great, the best I’ve ever had in a Detroit City uniform.

You know what’s better? Ten years in, this is only just getting started.

Since I was a kid, soccer has always been a very, very big sport in the state of Michigan. There's a lot of good players that have come out of Michigan youth academies and clubs, but we never had a professional club we could call our own.  

Growing up, did I ever think Detroit City was going to be here? Did you ever think a Detroit soccer club was going to be professional? I know I didn't. But now it’s here, it means the world to me, and is giving me the chance to give back to the community that raised me.

Right now, we’ve got more than 2,000 kids playing soccer in Detroit City’s youth programs. These kids, they look up to us players. They’re thinking, “you know, I want to wear the same jersey, I want to be a part of the same club.” Getting to interact with them, that's probably one of my favorite parts about all this, that I can be a role model. I love being a local product, and I love interacting with everyone.

Photo courtesy Jon DeBoer / Detroit City FC

That’s the other validation we feel right now. We’re a new icon for the city of Detroit, and everything that represents. Showing we can go toe-to-toe with one of the top clubs in the country on the field only drove that home further.

My soccer career hasn't been the most straightforward path, but I think that's the beauty of it. The steps I've taken to get where I am today are the same as the ones our youth players can now take to write the next chapters of our story.

The biggest success of Detroit City is it gives our community something to look up to in terms of what soccer can be, and where soccer is going in the state of Michigan.

I'm really blessed to be part of it.

From The Pitch aims to provide a platform for individuals within the USL to share their thoughts on things that matter most to them – at the crossroads of life and the beautiful game. USL partner Bellevue University is committed to empowering motivated students to explore their passions, impact change in their communities and chase their dreams.

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