A conversation during a team road trip to Rochester, New York launched the professional football journey of Woodsboro native Evan Raimist.
About four years ago, the 2012 Walkersville High School graduate was playing for an amateur football team, now known as Maryland Bobcats FC. He played on the weekends to continue being part of the sport he loved. During the bus ride, he overheard team co-owner Jide Saba and another staff member discussing the need for team marketing and promotion.
At the time, Raimist was working as an account manager at a Baltimore-based accounting firm and offered to help. He joined part-time in 2018 as the Bobcats’ director of communications and public relations. The position grew from posting team match results on Twitter and writing a weekly Facebook post to Raimist, becoming the primary brand voice for the team.
“I didn’t expect this to happen,” he said. “I literally wanted to play football once a week, and I love marketing and brand management. … I didn’t plan on it becoming my full-time job.
The Bobcats became the only professional men’s outdoor soccer team in the state. They play in the 10-team National Independent Soccer Association (NISA), a tier three league – two rungs below Major League Soccer in the sport’s American hierarchy. They were approved to join NISA in October 2020.
Raimist, who lives in Baltimore, is now vice president and chief operating officer for the Bobcats, a position he landed in February 2021.
At 26, he is one of the youngest to hold the management position. Saba notes that Raimist brings exceptional leadership skills to the team as well as passion, loyalty and honesty.
“Evan is still very young, but the expertise and experience he has is quite unique,” Saba said.
Raimist grew up in Woodsboro and was initially drawn to football due to his father’s love of the game.
“He was the one who put football in front of me as soon as possible,” he said.
Raimist began playing football at age 3 through a Frederick County Parks and Recreation program, then through fall and spring teams at Woodsboro/New Midway Recreation Council. At age 9, he moved to FC Frederick and later played for the Walkersville High football team, earning second-team All-County honors as a senior goaltender in 2011.
While earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, he played on the school team, serving as team captain his senior year.
After graduating, Raimist thought he was done with the sport, but a month later he felt the desire to play again. He filled out a free agent form on the website of what is now Maryland Major, a top amateur soccer league. An individual can put their name, playing position and a few phrases about themselves.
“If a team needs players, they’ll check first because it’s easier to find people who want to play,” Raimist said.
The first person to answer was Saba. “As soon as I saw him applying on that, I picked it up right away,” Saba said.
Raimist joined the club almost five years ago, playing at weekends. A year after arriving, he had the fateful conversation on the way to Rochester.
One of the things he enjoys most about his new job with the Bobcats is that the majority of players and coaching staff come from the Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC area. Friends and family, as well as children coached by the players, can come and watch the locals play at a professional level. The Bobcats provide an opportunity for some to play at a professional level who might never have had the chance.
Raimist enjoys being “able to show kids in this area, in this state – there’s a realistic opportunity for you to play professional football,” he said. “You don’t have to go to California or Florida or Germany. You can do it right here in Maryland.
The NISA season begins on March 26 and ends in October. The Bobcats play their home games at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds.
In his spare time, Raimist continues to play for an area indoor/outdoor amateur soccer team. He is quick to note that his job in professional football is a dream.
“I was never good enough to play football at a professional level,” he said. “I knew from an early age that I was not going to make a living playing football.”
Now in his role with the Bobcats, he is able to support athletes and coaching staff while helping shape professional football in the state.
“I think the owners trusted a 26-year-old who hadn’t managed a professional sports team before,” Raimist said. “It’s really being able to reciprocate for the trust they have placed in me.”