Catch the first match on March 11
Ben Pirmann had never watched Apple TV’s popular show Ted Lasso (starring comedian Jason Sudeikis as a soccer coach) prior to this interview. Perhaps it would have been a little too much like looking in a mirror. This spring, Pirmann will bring a similar natural positivity to the pitch as the new head coach of the Charleston Battery, helping the club rebound from a disappointing season that ended with six wins and 21 losses. After arriving in December, he first focused his energy on building a roster, fostering camaraderie, and getting to know his new home. His self-described “high-energy, high-character” recruitment model emphasizes community and team citizenship.
Pirmann grew up on the sidelines of a soccer field watching his father coach local teams in his native Michigan. During his final year as a midfielder at Michigan State, he turned an injury into opportunity, shadowing and assisting the coaching staff. That led to coaching stints at Western Michigan University, Michigan State, and the Detroit City club team.
Prior to Charleston, Pirmann compiled 37 wins at Memphis 901 FC. This season, four players from Memphis and several fresh recruits join 11 returning Battery veterans on the roster. On March 11, he’ll lead the team in its 31th season in their opening match against Phoenix Rising FC.
CM: What was your first impression of your new hometown?
BP: We’ve really enjoyed taking long walks around downtown and exploring the city through food. My wife has a sophisticated palate, and I’m like, fried chicken! It’s been fun trying out different she-crab soups. I like it thicker and creamier. Paige likes a little more broth.
CM: When your team reports for the first practice, what’s your day-one message?
BP: I want expectations to be very clear, from daily to weekly to season-long goals. We can’t always control wins, losses, the weather, the field, or the referees, but we can control our attitude and effort. We have a massively tough schedule this season, but if we do everything the right way with the utmost respect and integrity, the results will take care of themselves.
CM: What playing styles or game-control strategies do you plan to implement?
BP: We’ve seen a global shift from a build-from-the-back attacking style to a lot of high press and emphasis on in-your-face transitional moments. I want to make sure we’re always organized defensively. When the other team has the ball, we want to think about scoring. It’s an aggressive, defensive style. It all comes back to working harder than your opponent, being proactive, playing on the front foot, and making sure everyone is on the same page and that we’re seeing the small details and individual moments that can get a result.
CM: Is the year after a World Cup an especially fun time to be a soccer coach?
BP: Like music and art, football is a global sport that transcends everything. We’re coming off an incredible Cup, and the next one is in the US in 2026. Then, here in Charleston, we have the most historic club in North America [the Battery is one of two American professional teams founded in 1993 still in operation]. This club is going to be here a lot longer than us.
So, I take this huge concept of football’s global importance and focus it on our community here. Everything comes down to recruiting high-energy, high-character players who work hard and want to be good people. This is professional, high-level football, but the players are also citizens of Charleston. You can count on this team to work our tails off with a smile on our faces, and win, lose, or draw, we’ll be out there doing the same thing again the next week.
Raised: Detroit, Michigan
Lives: Downtown Charleston
Education: Michigan State University
Family: Wife, Paige
Free time: Walks along the Battery with Rufus, his golden retriever
Favorite dinner date spot: Poogan’s Porch