From the widely known Blackburn Rovers of England to the more obscure Tampines Rovers of Singapore, the Rovers name is firmly rooted in the soccer world. Our mascot‘s ties to Louisville and its history is perhaps less well known. Simply put, a Rover is a pirate. The character of the pirate typically evokes images of those swashbuckling high-seas raiders who sailed throughout the Caribbean, preying on passing ships. What most people don’t realize, however, is that the United States had its own share of river pirates.
During the years following the Revolutionary War, flatboats and barges teeming with valuable commodities crowded the rivers heading to New Orleans. These boats and their precious cargo presented ripe pickings for many less than scrupulous individuals. Men like Samuel Mason, James Ford, and the murderous Harpe Brothers gathered together gangs of like-minded scoundrels to loot and pillage the traffic on the Ohio River. Because of its location, Louisville served as the primary lookout point for those river pirates in spotting potential targets. Agents in Louisville would identify particularly valuable cargo shipments and wealthy travelers, then notify their associates down river of the soon arriving targets. The days of the river rovers were numbered. With the ever-increasing number of settlers pushing westward, the long arm of the law soon followed, and the wild Ohio River was finally tamed.
Originally known as the River City Rovers, the club was founded in the winter of 2010 to provide a platform for elite players from the Louisville area who sought to advance from the youth game to the professional ranks. The club played its first match in the USL Premier Development League in May 2011. The PDL is the highest level of amateur soccer in North America and sits on the 4th tier of the US Soccer pyramid, one step below the professional game. The purpose of the league is to groom and showcase the next generation of rising stars. The Rovers Youth Academy was launched in May 2012 in order to provide elite development opportunities to younger players aspiring to reach the highest levels of the game. After 2 years of directing the Youth Academy and assisting with the coaching duties of the PDL side, career coach Nathan Pitcock became the club's majority owner and president, driven by the vision to forge a unified club with a singular mission of developing young talent. In May of 2014 the club was renamed as the Derby City Rovers, referencing the iconic Kentucky Derby to more distinctly connect it with the city of Louisville. Today Rovers is distinguished by a unique structure and methodology which serves to carry out its bold philosophy of player development.