The Brickyard Battalion supporters pride themselves on being equal parts diehard ultras and community-driven supporters.
Since 2011, the group has been helping to grow the game of soccer in Indianapolis and leave its mark on the city. With each new year, the Indy Eleven supporters have become more and more infamous across the USL Championship for their passion for the team, activism in the community, and commitment to away days.
So what makes the Brickyard Battalion unique? It’s all in the group’s perfect harmony between history, culture, and community.
Even before there was Indy Eleven, there was the Brickyard Battalion.
Now in its 10th year of existence, Indianapolis’ independent supporters group was created as a way to bring professional soccer back to the city.
When Indy Eleven was only an idea and a dream, the early founders of the Brickyard Battalion emailed just about every wealthy individual with ties to Indianapolis in search of an owner. As time progressed, and more people got wind of the efforts by supporters, the likelihood of bringing a new team to Indianapolis increased.
“We really pride ourselves on our roots and the role that the Brickyard Battalion had in bringing soccer to Indianapolis,” shared Katherine Reed, President of the Brickyard Battalion.
The dream of pro soccer returning finally became a reality when businessman Ersal Ozdemir decided to step in as owner. In just a few years, the group had thousands of members and the rest was history.
Since Indy Eleven debuted in the North American Soccer League in 2014, the Brickyard Battalion has developed a one-of-a-kind style.
From its clever pranks on opposing groups, to its smoke-filled supporter section, the Brickyard Battalion knows how to grow a member base.
Hours before any home match, you will find Brickyard Battalion members of all ages tailgating outside Carroll Stadium. Inside, a select few can be seen laying dozens upon dozens of flags (…actually, that number might be lowballing it). Once fans make their way into Carroll Stadium, the banter begins
Now don’t be surprised, the west end of the stadium where the Brickyard Battalion’s calls home is far from a PG supporters section.
Even though the group makes a point to welcome even the youngest Indy Eleven fans through their Next Gen Ultras initiative, you are guaranteed to hear curse words and heated commentary all 90 minutes. And the Brickyard Battalion doesn’t apologize for it either. That’s part of who they are.
But behind all the profanities, you won’t find any hate speech or fighting. In fact, as clubs and supporter groups across the globe look for ways to remove bigotry from the game, Brickyard Battalion is a shining example of how to do it.
On matchdays, the leaders of the Brickyard Battalion wear visible captain’s armbands and encourage fellow supporters to talk to them if they ever see anything negative during a game. Capos also reiterate that message on the bullhorn before each game. They remind fans to directly call out any hate speech they witness and if something does occur, the group is quick to work with fellow members and the front office to address it.
“We’ve always been a section that welcomes all,” said William Stark. “And we’ve meant that.”
That welcoming culture extends to their relationships with the players too.
Even in the worst of ruts, these fans know how to smile and stay positive. On one night when Indy Eleven lost a particularly heartbreaking match against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, fans were both frustrated and kind. Don’t get me wrong, they had plenty of harsh words to say about the coaching decisions and lack of goals. But in the very next breath, supporters were smiling at their neighbors and making lighthearted jokes to keep the mood upbeat.
After the game, the players could be seen chatting with the Brickyard Battalion members, with both groups encouraging each other to stay positive. That level of respect between the supporters and players is what makes Indianapolis a special setting for USL soccer and why the Indy Eleven fanbase keeps growing.
“This is what local soccer is all about,” shared Katherine. “Standing by the players and your community even in the lowest moments.”
She continued, “We’re not the supporters group that is going to die down, or go silent. It only makes us louder and more supportive. That’s a good way to look at life. When you are down or someone that you care about is down, it is good to have people that will lift you up.”
Investing in Community
Above all else, the Brickyard Battalion is focused on being an inclusive community.
As Sebastian Dancler, Communications Chair for the Brickyard Battalion, shared, “It’s combining a love of sports, with a desire to give back to the neighborhood and the community.”
During the month of June, the Brickyard Battalion led a number of activations and educational events focused on commemorating Juneteenth and bringing awareness to racial inequity. They also raised thousands for the Indiana Youth Group through the 2021 Prideraiser campaign supporting the LGBTQ+ community. The work doesn’t end there either. Brickyard Battalion members regularly spend time volunteering with local nonprofit organizations.
Altogether, these efforts take on significant meaning when looking at the team’s geographical surroundings.
“For many of us, the Brickyard Battalion is an oasis within the state of Indiana and city of Indianapolis,” shared Katherine. “We believe firmly in equality, human rights, and social justice, and we’re not afraid to talk about it alongside our love for the sport.”
As the group’s website says, the Brickyard Battalion isn’t for match day, it’s for every day.
“We talk a lot about our role and how we can create a positive impact in this city,” noted Sebastian. “If we can impact at least one person and help them change their perspective, then that one person will lead to another, and another.”
In Indianapolis, the Brickyard Battalion and the broader soccer community understands the collective power they have as supporters. They are committed to bringing that to all aspects of community life.