Born and raised in Ohio’s capital, Todd Sroufe is passionate about his city and club. His devotion to Columbus Crew SC is on display at every match in the Nordecke, where supporters wave an iconic Black & Gold Ohio flag that he designed.
Sroufe came up with his idea for the flag during game four of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ playoff appearance against the Detroit Red Wings in 2009.
“I took a small state of Ohio flag, as it’s part of their logo. I was waving it during the game and for some reason, it just kind of clicked in my head,” he says. “I’m like, ‘this atmosphere reminds me of the Nordecke. It might be cool if we designed something with this flag, with the right colors.’”
After mulling it over for about a year and realizing Crew SC flags were sold out around town, it seemed fate was stepping in.
“I just started thinking about it more, sketched it out," Stroufe says. "I’m not a computer person. I’m fortunate enough that my best friend is, so he helped me put the idea down on a computer graphic and lay out all that kind of stuff.”
Sroufe says he’s not an artist, but one might disagree considering the work of art he’s fashioned.
“After reading what some of the symbolism meant in the Ohio flag, it was easy,” Sroufe says. “The design, obviously, is very reflective of the state, which in my head is the whole state. It’s Columbus, but I would like it to be more than just Columbus."
So what's the symbolism behind Sroufe's Black & Gold Ohio flag?
“We adjusted the center red circle to be a soccer ball," Sroufe explains. “The ‘C’ around it, instead of the circle for an ‘O’ is now a ‘C’ for ‘Columbus’ or ‘Crew SC,’ whichever you prefer.
“The stars, originally it had 17, and I reduced it to 10 for the original 10 teams in MLS. I made the one larger at the point of the triangle to represent the original team—us. And then I just changed the colors to make them ours. That’s where it all came from.”
Sticking with his Columbus pride and staying local, he took his design to The Flag Lady’s Flag Store in Clintonville. Sroufe says he’d heard good things about it and describes the store as “homey.” After getting it approved by Crew SC to avoid any trademark troubles, his vision came to fruition and the first flag was made.
“It seems to be a success and I’ve had a lot of people mention how much they appreciate it,” he says.
Sroufe says it fills him with pride and happiness to see the flag waving in the Nordecke, hanging on houses around town, and fellow Crew SC supporters using it as a symbol of their support and commitment to the club.
“I have a couple that is getting married, and they recently came and did their engagement photos at the stadium with one of my flags,” he says.
Sroufe says his favorite part of attending Crew SC matches is the thrilling atmosphere in the Nordecke, something he missed out on during his college football viewing days.
“I was in the OSU marching band, and so I was very regimented. I wasn’t able to have a few drinks and get crazy at a time in my life when I was a college kid and that’s kind of what you want to be,” Sroufe says. "So this is kind of my chance to be that now.”
It’s because of Ohio State that Sroufe discovered the Black & Gold in the first place.
“I went to the first game at Ohio Stadium because I was an Ohio State football fan and I was like, ‘Well, I wonder what this is. Let’s go check it out,” he says. “And I went to the first game and we beat D.C. United 4-0, and I was hooked. I went to several games a year after that.”
An original supporter of the club and now a season ticket member, Sroufe embodies “club and city, together as one.” So next time you’re at a Crew SC match at MAPFRE Stadium and you see the iconic Black & Gold Ohio flag, you'll know how it became a symbol for Crew SC, the city of Columbus and the whole state of Ohio.