Q&A: The Rampage co-founder, Kevin Stoke, talks about the First Team-Recognized Supporters Group for NYRB II
The purpose of a Supporters Section is to create an atmosphere that can show off the passion the fans have for their club. It is supposed to be the engine that drives the players they support on the field, the heartbeat of the stadium, and the place the most passionate fans can gather and support the club they love the most.
For the New York Red Bulls, we are home to the loudest, most committed, and diehard supporters groups in Major League Soccer. However, for the reigning USL Cup champion New York Red Bulls II, there were no existing supporters sections. That has now changed with the creation of the first officially recognized Supporters Group for NYRB II, The Rampage.
Two members of the Viking Army, Kevin Stoke and Robert Manella started the Rampage. Both fans of the Red Bulls since around 2010, both Stoke and Manella have attended almost every Red Bulls II match over the last two seasons and have now taken the initiative to take that diehard passion they participate in at first team matches to Red Bulls II matches.
In this Q&A, co-founder Kevin Stoke spoke with NewYorkRedBulls.com.com about The Rampage:
Q: How did the idea of a Supporters Section for the New York Red Bulls II come about?
Kevin: Either at the end of the summer or early fall last season, Robert and I were at a game between either Rochester Rhinos or Orlando City B. Despite this being an away game for them, they had a decent amount of people show up who were organized and partying. We thought from then that we should do something for the II team, get more people involved, and not just have an average of 200 people attend games.
Q: What is the mission and goal for the Supporters group? Are you looking to have more people join from the first team fan base?
Kevin: I would love the group to be like what we have with the South Ward at Red Bull Arena. I would love to have a base of supporters. This is only our first year, we started this officially in mid-January, so we have only been doing this for two months but so far the response has been great. Our goal is to be the supporters group for Red Bulls II, have people come down and have fun with us, chanting, and be there for the USL Cup champions. We are doing this so you can come see a professional soccer team and have fun.
Q: What kind of atmosphere are you looking to create at New York Red Bulls II matches? Will it be something similar to what we see at Red Bull Arena for the first team?
Kevin: We want to create a fun atmosphere and we want everyone to be involved. If we can get it to be like Red Bull Arena then that would be great. We want to be friendly, supportive, and do our thing. We will mainly be just chanting and follow how the first team groups do it. However, we do have a couple ideas in mind, which are more specific with Red Bulls II.
Q: Will moving from Red Bull Arena to MSU Soccer Park in Montclair improve atmosphere at matches?
Kevin: It is actually kind of a catch 22. At Red Bull Arena we had Red Bull Arena. We had that design, overlooking everything about MLS. With MSU, we also might lose a little bit of the fan base that was based in the five boroughs, but we could also bring in a bunch of college students from Montclair. These college students, who might not have anything to do on a Saturday night, can come down to a match and have fun. There will be a student section for them and we hope that they come and have fun with us.
Q: What do you believe is the best way to convince fans of the first team to also come out in support of the New York Red Bulls II?
Kevin: The biggest thing is that the kids who play for the Red Bulls II side now will soon play for the senior team. You get the opportunity to see them develop, grow, and learn how Red Bull as a team does things. For example, Aaron Long was fantastic for Red Bulls II last season and look at what he has done the last few weeks. He has made the first team along with Tyler Adams. This is the chance to see the future, to watch these kids develop as players and as a team.
Q: What is the basic structure of the supporters group? What is your presence on social media?
Kevin: We have a Facebook and Twitter and we will soon break out an Instagram account. Eventually we want to start our own webpage and sell our own merchandise. For members of our group, they will receive a scarf. Currently our board consists of just Robert and me but if this club develops then there will be more opportunities for board members in the years to come. We won’t be going to away matches yet other than maybe Bethlehem Steel.
Q: And finally, is there any plan to affiliate or partner with the Supporters Groups from the first team?
Kevin: Well we are kind of with the Viking Army, because that is where Robert and I come from. We are close with everybody there and they will help us with the initial scarves. They have been very receptive.
The New York Red Bulls II play their opener at MSU Soccer Park at the campus of Montclair State University on April 1 against the Richmond Kickers. There will also be a pregame banner raising for your 2016 USL Cup Champions, NYRB II, so please be in your seats early.
Montclair State Radio will also be hosting a pre-game and postgame show on WMSC Campus Radio, which can be found on your 90.3 FM dial or on the iHeart Radio App.
Great seats are still available for Saturday’s 4 p.m. match! Get your tickets HERE or by calling 877.722.7585.