The nonprofit Scorpions finally brought professional soccer to SA, but will it stick?
Published: April 4, 2012
To make sure the Scorpions' deals are good for the team and the city, former FC Dallas General Manager Michael Hitchcock was brought in as president. In his 12 years in the MLS, Hitchcock was the most successful business manager in the league's history. He won the MLS Sales Director of the Year award four times while his sales teams earned the same honor five times. FC Dallas reached the playoffs twice under Hitchcock, but fell short in 2009 and his contract wasn't renewed. The team was 48-47-27 in his tenure.
For the Scorpions, Hitchcock — who also managed the 20,000-seat Pizza Hut Stadium in Dallas — wants to start strong and, if the support is there, to explore the possibility of joining the MLS. "San Antonio is probably the most important market that doesn't have a professional team," Hitchcock told the Current. "But it's hard to go from zero to MLS, so we studied all four divisions and decided that the most logical thing to do was to start in the second division." Four of the five newest MLS franchises come from NASL: Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, and Montreal; the Scorpions are taking Montreal's spot in the NASL.
But if Hitchcock is the brains of the operation, Hankinson and the team its legs, team founder Gordon Hartman is the heart. He gives all credits to his daughter Morgan (for which Morgan's Wonderland is named) with being the Scorpion's inspiration.
"See that girl over there?" he asks, pointing to a framed photo in his office. "She's the reason there's professional soccer in San Antonio."
Hartman, the son of former City Councilman Glen Hartman, owned businesses in home construction, land development, mortgage investments, and insurance, but sold them all in 2005. "That was right before the drop in the market," he told the Current. "I was 41 years old, and for the second half of my life I decided to devote my time to helping kids with special needs. We built Morgan's Wonderland and brought the Scorpions to develop awareness of the special-needs community, and we have plans of doing a lot more things, all inspired by that girl named Morgan."
Eighteen-year-old Morgan was born with severe cognitive delay (which makes it difficult for her to add or form simple sentences) and physical needs. Many of those physical needs, however, were addressed through surgery (it took 26 screws in her back and two rods to help her stand straight). She's also one of the happiest kids I've ever seen, and her smile is infectious, illuminating everything around her. She enjoyed every single moment of the groundbreaking ceremony, and afterwards went to play with other kids on the playground.
"She's the reason behind everything I do," said Hartman. "Her inspiration comes from the fact that, in spite of all her problems, every single night she goes to bed with a smile on her face, and every morning the same smile is there."
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