The journey is never-ending.
Three and half years ago, MountainStar Sports Group made an incredible announcement introducing El Paso as the latest team to join the USL Championship. Before the club even had a name – going under the moniker El Paso USL – it made its first hire. Sarah Nollner joined the club as the Director of Marketing and Communications.
After three and half years of dedication and hard work, it’s bittersweet to announce the club’s first hire is taking steps towards her next big journey at the helm of the Louisville organization. As a native to Louisville, Kentucky she is returning home to aide her hometown club on both Louisville City FC of the USL Championship and Racing Louisville FC of the National Women’s Soccer League.
From the beginning, Sarah came to the Borderland with a passion to build a soccer community in El Paso. She has watched as this club grew from infancy and obscurity into a league-wide juggernaut supported by a wall of Locomotive faithful. In the club’s early stages, Sarah stood on the concourse of Southwest University Park, the future home of El Paso’s premier soccer club, gauging interest with El Paso Chihuahua attendees. While reminiscing on the club’s upstarts, she described herself as “that crazy girl at a baseball game asking about soccer.”
When El Paso Locomotive was nothing more than an announced idea, Sarah spearheaded the charge to give the club shape. She breathed life into the club’s identity. She helped launch the community-wide effort that polled soccer fans across the Borderland to submit team names. She narrowed down the options, celebrated Locomotive as the winner, and began working closely with Brandiose to create the crest. With her input, she helped design the badge featuring a pilot with 11 bars representing the 11 players on the field as well as the iconic Mountain Star against a silhouette of the Franklin Mountains. With her hand, Locomotive now had a crest that beautifully blended and represented club and city.
Sarah welcomed Locomotive’s first signing, Omar Salgado, an El Paso native to help lead the charge as a true community representative in its first USL Championship season. She helped reveal Head Coach and Technical Director Mark Lowry, who would find the perfect players both locally and abroad to guide El Paso on their Championship journey. Sarah also found Ozzy, the faithful mascot of El Paso Locomotive, introducing him to the community as a crucial member of the Loco Familia.
When it all came together for the first match at Southwest University Park on March 9, 2019, Sarah watched over the pitch from the concourse with a proud, heartwarming smile. In a moment of pure poeticism, a train rolled past the stadium blowing its horn as she took in the hard work from not only herself but everyone at the club. “We did it” was all she needed to say.
She has since seen Locomotive through to two Western Conference Finals and now a historic third season that sees the club undefeated at home in over a calendar year. She has watched this club grow into success on the field with a crowd of supporters thousands-strong singing their love. She has a passion for El Paso, its community, and this club that is unmatched by anyone within this organization. She had a desire to give fans a soccer team it could be proud of and that’s something you can see in everything she does from her desk in downtown El Paso.
It’s truly a storybook ending that in her final game with Locomotive, the club was able to lift a trophy that was built for the community – the Copa Tejas.
Even though only being here for a handful of years, Sarah really represented what it means to be a true El Pasoan,” said Michael Flores, Senior Account Executive, Group and Hospitality Sales. “She took pride in making sure what we did here was great for the community. The club, myself and the city of El Paso will miss her dearly.”
“Sarah has helped make this club what it is today, one of the top in the league, and without all of her hard work and dedication, this club would not be in the direction that it’s going,” shared Taylor Miller, Manager of Soccer Operations and Game Presentation.
At no point was there any doubt that Sarah was the perfect candidate for the job. She carried with her experience as the Marketing and Media Consultant for the Mexican National Team in Major League Soccer/Soccer United Marketing. She worked alongside the Copa America Centenario and the CONCACAF Gold Cup. She earned experience in US Business Operations with Club Tijuana Xoloitzucuintles.
“The passion she has for her job and this sport is unmatched. She made her mark on this city and it will not be forgotten,” said Liz Vega, Coordinator, Marketing and Social Media.
The journey is never-ending. While Sarah’s chapter in El Paso is coming to a close, the marks she has left on the club will be everlasting. She has shaped it and set it on the track towards success to be a beacon in the southwest desert.
She sets off on her new journey with a storied organization. USL Championship’s Louisville City has recorded two back-to-back USL title wins while celebrating an Eastern Conference Final appearance in every season of its five-year existence. Their NWSL side, Racing Louisville FC is championing women’s soccer in the United States as one of the latest clubs in the league. With its state-of-the-art Lynn Family Stadium just on the edge of downtown Louisville and the Eastern club’s passion for soccer and community, we can rest easy knowing that Sarah is joining one of the USL Championship’s quality organizations.
“She has been an incredible mentor for myself and others, I couldn’t be more grateful and can’t wait to watch her do amazing things in Louisville,” continued Miller.
“Three years ago, Sarah launched my career and since then she has continued to be an incredible mentor and inspiration,” said Vega. “Even though she didn't grow up in El Paso she had a deep understanding of the city's people and engrained our culture into this club.”
"Sarah is a champion for women in sports and it reflected in her attitude and dedication to the Club,” said Ellie Westcott, Activation Specialist, Corporate Partnerships. “She is incredibly hardworking, supportive, kind, and above all, a friend to everyone who walked into the door. Though we are going to miss her incredibly, I am so happy to see the impact she makes in Louisville. "
“I’ll be forever grateful and thankful that Sarah took a chance on me and hired me for my first job out of college,” shared Coordinator, Multimedia and Content Creation Kensey Arlt. “I appreciate her love for the game, love for her coworkers, and love for the job. She’s been a wonderful mentor, friend, and boss. She’s the best first boss anyone could ask for.”
From everyone here in El Paso, from our Front Office staff to the players on the pitch, we all wish you the best of luck in Louisville, Sarah! You’ll always be a part of the Loco Familia and we are rooting for you every step of the way.
Thank you for everything!