Mike Lapper was part of the Columbus Crew for 17 seasons as a payer (1997-2002), front office member (2003-2005), and an assistant coach (2006-2013.) Off the top of my head, that means he trails only Dr. Pete Edwards, Dwight Burgess, Robert Warzycha, and former front office member Paul Howard in terms of overall employment longevity in the history of the club. He’s currently an assistant coach on Brad Friedel’s staff with the New England Revolution, but current allegiances aside, Columbus and the Crew will always be a large part of his life’s story.
We recently caught up to talk about the Crew being saved and remaining in their rightful home in Columbus. Here’s what he had to say…
On living through the relocation saga as it played out:
At the beginning, it was just a shock that it was even an option that they would go somewhere else. I obviously don’t know all the behind the scenes stuff, but just the fact that it was a rumor that was growing closer and closer to reality was sad. Especially after being with the team for so long, I want nothing but the best for the Crew and that’s where I’m going to live with my family when that time comes. To hear that was sad. You just get left in turmoil and you don’t know if it’s going to happen and as it gets closer it seemed more inevitable that it was going to happen, but then the efforts of the fans and everyone associated with the Crew was amazing. The optimism of #SaveTheCrew was amazing because nothing like this has ever happened.
On the Crew being 100% officially saved:
For someone who was with the club for 17 years, it’s been quite a ride. It’s just fantastic that a local family is an investor. I’d see Dr. Edwards all the time and I’ve had surgeries done by him. It’s just incredible what their ambition is with the downtown stadium. That’s where it needs to be. And like I’ve heard others say, it’s time for the fans to step up. Sell this thing out. Why can’t the Crew be another Kansas City where it’s sold out for years?
It’s just a great, great feeling and an exciting time. I really hope that this #SaveTheCrew momentum translates into ticket sales and passion that’s not just for one or two years, but for a long, long time. A lot of people put a lot of effort, money, and blood, sweat, and tears to get here. Now you’re getting what you want, so it would just be nice to see it translate into ticket sales.
On Dr. Pete being part of the ownership group:
He’s just a genuine guy. He’s a family guy, and his family is heavily invested in Columbus. He’s just a normal guy. He’s just so down to earth. Any time you have to go see him for an injury, he’ll just talk. How’s your family? How are you kids? I can’t comment on him as an owner because I’ve never seen him in that light, but I’m sure he’s still going to be himself.
It’s so great to see a local owner who is there on the ground every day. That’s not a backlash at the Hunts, who lived in Dallas. They did so much. This league wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Mr. Hunt. And Precourt didn’t live there. He was off in California. So it’s going to be great to have an owner that can pop in at any time. And Pete’s been around the game for so long, so it’s going to be fun. I think people who are as successful as he is don’t just blindly jump into something like this, no matter how passionate they are. You can lead with your heart, but the head follows and the pocketbook follows, so I’m sure from a business standpoint and a family standpoint, he had conversations with his inner circle and the other investors. It’s going to be exciting.
On what he would say to the Columbus fans after a successful #SaveTheCrew movment:
First and foremost, I would say congratulations and thank you so much for all the time and effort and passion you put into this. For someone who was with the club for 17 years in different capacities, it means everything. Congratulations, pat your self on the back, but then keep going and keep the drive alive. With this excitement, keep going and build something that’s going to be awesome. Do the Nordecke in the whole stadium. Get that place rocking. It will be a tough place to play.
So congratulations, thank you, and keep the momentum going.
A MASSIVE SEASON is now available as an ebook.