Mint Hill FC Brings Elite Soccer To Mint Hill

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MINT HILL, NC – Founded by brothers Dylan and Caleb Ritch, Mint Hill FC’s mission is “to provide an exciting, inclusive gameday experience and support the Mint Hill community while showcasing a high level of soccer.”

Mint Hill natives and soccer players themselves, Dylan and Caleb saw several opportunities to improve Mint Hill area soccer.  First, they noticed that Mint Hill lacks a professional sports team, and to Dylan and Caleb, this spelled untapped potential.  “Growing up here, there are so many good soccer players, so many people we played on teams with that lived right here in Mint Hill!”

But Mint Hill lacks an elite soccer team to train those talented players.  “Mint Hill Athletic Association offers Recreational level-soccer and some competitive club level soccer,” explains Caleb.  “Elite league or club soccer, on the other hand, is for middle or high schoolers who are committed to soccer and want to play in college or play professionally.”

Right now, Mint Hill kids who want to play soccer at this level have to travel to Cornelius to play with the Charlotte Independence or to Pineville to play with Charlotte Soccer Academy.  “We want to offer that option to kids in our area,” explains Caleb.  “There are so many good kids whose parents just can’t make that drive.”

There’s another problem that the Ritch brothers want to tackle, and that’s the “pay to play” system that can be a stumbling block for talented players.  “The big thing with elite soccer clubs is you have to pay to get onto these teams,” explains Caleb.  “There are situations where it’s merit-based, but the reality is that if you’re a good player, you have to pay $2-5K to get on these teams.”

Dylan and Caleb Ritch spoke about Mint Hill FC at the January Chamber of Commerce Luncheon
Dylan and Caleb Ritch spoke about Mint Hill FC at the January Chamber of Commerce Luncheon

“What we want to do is take that elite club and be able to offer it at a price anyone can afford,” continues Caleb.  They hope to accomplish this by partnering with other businesses and organizations in the Mint Hill area who share their vision.  Ideally, says Caleb, kids would be able to play for free, but he recognizes this may not be realistic.  His hope is that sponsorships from local businesses and organizations will bring the cost down considerably, giving talented players who simply can’t afford traditional elite clubs the opportunity to train and play at a high level.

To accomplish this mission, Caleb and Dylan have developed a three-pronged business model.  Part one is a semi-pro UPSL (United Premier Soccer League) team for ages 16+.  The UPSL is a professional development soccer league that offers players who think they might want to play professionally the opportunity to get looked at in a professional soccer environment.  Dylan and Caleb relied on their own knowledge of Mint Hill’s talent – and especially on Dylan’s role as an assistant coach at Independence last year – to recruit for the team, which is already practicing at Rocky River High School.  Their first season is set to begin in March.

As Mint Hill FC grows, Caleb and Dylan plan to move into the second prong of their business plan: an elite soccer club for middle and high schoolers interested in pursuing a career in soccer.  “We want to go through this season, and hopefully the community gets behind us, we perform well, and revenue is good,” says Caleb.  “Within 2-3 years, we hope to start that elite youth club and we plan on beginning by partnering with the already established soccer division of the Mint Hill Athletic Association to grow local soccer.”

Mint Hill FC's UPSL team currently practices at Rocky River High School
Mint Hill FC’s UPSL team currently practices at Rocky River High School

Mint Hill FC ultimately aims to move up a division and become Mint Hill’s first official pro team, and Caleb and Dylan are confident that Mint Hill will rally behind them.  “I think about the Independence football team,” says Caleb.  “We were undefeated for something like seven years!  We had people waiting in line for hours to get tickets for the Butler game.  Mint Hill is such a community that comes together to support their events, their teams, their restaurants.  We feel like if we bring that pro team to the community, everyone will come out to support it.”

But soccer itself is only one part of Mint Hill FC’s mission and vision.  Caleb and Dylan also hope to create a financial literacy and professional development program accessible to all Mint Hill-area students that will complement the work CMS does to prepare its students for college and careers.

“There’s so much potential here, not just for athletes, but for all students,” says Caleb.  “Lots of kids I went to school with are so smart but didn’t know what they wanted to do or how to get there.  Being able to create this program would be so helpful for every kid in our area.  Take Independence, for example – there’s something like 2600 kids there.  They have great teachers and guidance counselors, but they can only do so much.  That’s where we come in – not to work against them, but to work with them and provide that help to even more students.”

Caleb and Dylan recognize that building a program like this won’t be quick or easy, but they hope to be able to roll it out as soon as possible.  Caleb’s vision is to pilot the program with a small group of local students after their first UPSL season concludes and expand from there.

If you’re interested in learning more about Mint Hill FC or want to get involved, visit them on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter @minthillfc.  You can also email  Watch the Mint Hill Times calendar for news about their first game.  Caleb and Dylan are always available after games to talk with people from the community!

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Mary Beth Foster
Mary Beth Foster works part time as an essay specialist at Charlotte Latin School and full time as a mom to her five-year-old daughter Hannah and her two-year-old son Henry. Prior to having children, she worked as a high school English teacher for nine years. Most recently, she chaired the English department at Queen's Grant High School. She and her husband have lived in Mint Hill with their children and their cats since 2011. Email: