Birmingham Legion FC announce new President/GM

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After a delayed announcement because of a winter storm, Birmingham Legion FC formally introduced their new President and GM Thursday evening at Good People Brewing Company. 

Jay Heaps, former MLS coach and player, will be the man to lead Legion FC into USL in 2019 when the team begins play in the second tier of the US Soccer pyramid. 

“We knew that we wanted a unique leader for this team,” member of the Birmingham Legion FC ownership team Lee Styslinger said. “To have {Jay} in a general management role as president of our operations is a big, huge asset to our community.” 

Heaps, who played in MLS from 1999-2009 and coached the New England Revolution from 2011-2017, said the deal to make him president of Legion FC came together before Christmas. 

“I brought my wife back right before Christmas to make sure she checked off on it, and she fell in love, and that was, for me, what was most important,” Heaps said. “It wasn’t about ‘Hey, we need to have this number of people.’ It wasn’t ‘We need to win a championship by Year One.’ It was a lot of ‘Hey, we’re doing this for the long haul. We’re doing this Birmingham,’ because we want to make this city proud of what we’re putting on the field.” 

Heaps said one of the things that sold him on switching to front office management from coaching was the branding of Legion FC. 

“I’m a big believer in culture, and sure enough, you show up and the first thing they show you is the brand launch, talking about the three pillars of the pride, passion, and community,” Heaps said. “That, I think, was where I had that moment of, ‘Alright, this is going to be great.'”

“{Giving up coaching} was difficult,” Heaps said. “I think it was really about what I loved about building something. Being a part of a club from the beginning, to be able to say, ‘Hey, this is what we want as a culture,’guess what? You can now take this and put this, top down, from ownership, on to the field.”

Styslinger said Heaps was the right man for Legion FC because of his background not only in MLS, but also the fact that Heaps learned under coach Mike Krzyzewski while playing basketball, as well as soccer, at Duke University.

“Any great organization, it’s all about leadership. It’s all about motivation, and Jay is the man for the hour, and we could not be more honored to have him leading our efforts.”

Heaps, vice president Morgan Copes, and the rest of the Legion FC crew will begin work for the 2019 USL season immediately, which also includes planning, scouting, and recruiting players for the Birmingham Hammers USL PDL season that begins in May. The Hammers, making the move from NPSL after two seasons, will play their games at Samford’s Soccer Stadium off Lakeshore Drive in Homewood. 

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