NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tanner Dieterich was living out a dream. He was drafted by his hometown team to start 2020 and helped Nashville S.C. kick off its inaugural season. Things couldn’t have been going any better for the 22 year old former Clemson defender.
Dieterich couldn’t even believe his eyes as he took in the scene before his first professional game. Nashville soccer fans had packed Nissan Stadium, the home of the NFL Titans, with a record 59,069 fans for Nashville S.C.’s debut Major League Soccer Match.
“To be a part of the first, inaugural game and everything, it was unreal,” Dieterich said. “It’s a moment that my family and I, and my friends, will hold on to for a very long time.”
It was the largest crowd to ever watch soccer in the state of Tennessee, and the biggest crowd for a debut game in league history.
And it was an atmosphere Dieterich never imagined possible. Growing up in Nashville, there was no professional soccer of any kind. Now he is a part of the city’s first Major League soccer team.
“It’s hard to even think about where this city has come as far as the soccer landscape and the trajectory of where it’s going,” Dieterich said. “I think that this club is not even close to where it’s going to be in the future and I’m really, really excited to be a part of it.”
But just days after that magical first match, Nashville was hit by a devastating EF-3 tornado that did extensive damage to north and east Nashville before hitting other parts of Davidson County. Two of Dieterich’s Nashville S.C. teammates were left homeless by the storm.
Just nine days later, the MLS suspended its season amid fears of the Coronavirus. Shortly thereafter, Nashville, like many U.S. cities, issued stay at home orders for nearly all of its residents.
With soccer on pause and so many people hurting from both tragedies, Dieterich wanted to help. He partnered with Feed the Front Line Nashville, an organization that delivers meals from local restaurants to healthcare workers on the front line of the outbreak.
“A good friend of mine reached out and said, ‘hey, would you be willing to come on the team and help us out,’” Dieterich said. “And I was more than willing to. I was looking for any way possible that I could kind of jump in and help this city any way I can.”
Feed the Front Line Nashville had raised more than $50,000 and donated over a thousand meals through the end of April, and continues its work each day. Dieterich is continuing his work, as well. He’s raised money, donated what he can, and is doing his best to spread the word about the organization that’s doing its best to get Music City back on its feet.
“This city, obviously 10 years ago, went through the flood. The tornadoes just happened. And now this virus,” Dieterich said. “This city has a special, special camaraderie of coming over these events and coming back stronger than we were before. Now that I get to be at the forefront of that and use my platform to kind of boost that to bring people together and make an impact is pretty special. I’m just excited to be a part of it, really, and (to) get to see what this city can do.”
A bright future awaits, if Dieterich has anything to say about it. For the city, and for its newest team.