South Georgia Tormenta FC will be a founding member of United Soccer League Division III for 2019.

The club will compete in its third Premier Development League season in 2018 before moving to the professional level next year.

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of years of hard work from our organization to develop and launch a successful third division built on the principles and foundation that made the USL one of the most prominent second divisions in the world,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said in a statement.

“We are thrilled to welcome South Georgia Tormenta FC into the USL Division III as a founding member and expect the club to continue its success. This is just the beginning of an exciting period of growth for USL Division III as we expect to unveil more new markets in the coming months and continue to lead the growth of professional soccer in the United States.”

Tormenta FC has established itself as one of the premier amateur teams in United States since its founding in 2015, earning the PDL’s new franchise of the year award in 2016 and finishing as a runner-up for the PDL’s franchise of the year award in 2017.

The club has filed plans to construct and released renderings of a new state-of-the-art 5,000-seat soccer-specific stadium in Statesboro, with the intention of attracting other sporting events and possibly serving as a home venue for the Georgia Southern University men’s and women’s soccer teams.

“This is an exciting time for South Georgia soccer fans, as we prepare to join USL Division III and bring professional soccer to our region in 2019,” Tormenta FC owner and president Darin Van Tassell said. “Elevating the club to the proven model of the USL professional ranks allows us to increase the impact our organization can have in the local community, region and country.”

Darin and Netra Van Tassell will serve as majority owners of the professional team. Darin Van Tassell, who received his Ph.D. in International Studies from the University of South Carolina and was awarded his B.A. in Political Science from Georgia Southern in 1989, is the president of BVT Enterprises, Inc. He was named 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce and previously served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is a three-time former Olympian, who served as a head coach in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, as a technical commissioner for the International Baseball Federation in the 2004 Olympics  and as the competition director for the IBAF in the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Netra Van Tassell, who received her M.A. in Exceptional Children from South Carolina in 1994 and her Bachelor degree in Early Education and Special Education from Georgia Southern University in 1990, serves as the vice president of BVT Enterprises, Inc. She also serves as the Chief Operations Officer of all activities at The Clubhouse, where she manages more than 75 employees and has been responsible for daily operations since 2010.

Jeff Spencer, Craig Simonson, Jeremy Aven, Stephanie Brighton, Kristen Goodman, Alan and Kristin Kagen and Phil and Mary Ann Michel will serve as minority owners.