Dieter's Devils worship only one Spirit Devout fans follow their favorite player

January 02, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

The strong bond grew out of a summer soccer camp and became, in final form, a group known as Dieter's Devils.

They come to the Spirit's home games at the Baltimore Arena, usually sitting in section 328, draping their banner over the railing and wearing Dieter's Devils T-shirts. They have a mascot, a person wearing a devil's costume with lighted horns.

They will be there tonight, 30 strong, when the Spirit faces the Dayton Dynamo at 7:35 in a National Professional Soccer League game.

"Every time I touch the ball, I hear them scream," Jason Dieter said. "If I get an assist, they make more noise. I try to give a little wave to show I appreciate them being there."

The Devils idolize the Spirit rookie who came from Archbishop Curley High, Essex Community College and UMBC to pro soccer. Before Christmas, they gave him brownies and an album of newspaper clippings and photos.

"I would have enjoyed the brownies even more," Dieter said, "if we hadn't lost to Cleveland that day."

Only one other Spirit player has a fan club, and Joe Koziol's is in Ohio. Koziol's Klan was formed when the former Loyola College star was playing for the Cleveland Crunch.

It was last August when Dieter came in contact with the young Anne Arundel County soccer players who would become the Devils. Dieter was on assistant Spirit coach Mike Stankovic's staff that was conducting a weeklong camp in the evenings in Crownsville for more than 100 youngsters, most of them 11- to 13-year-old girls.

"I told the staff to be enthusiastic, so it would spread to the kids and they could take it into their fall season," Stankovic said. "The personal touch, you know. The way Jason taught them, they just had this strong feeling for him."

"The relationship gelled, with the parents as well as the kids," Dieter said.

"They showed up after our preseason game against Harrisburg here and told me they were starting the club."

Dieter, 22, the Spirit's No. 5 scorer with 20 points on five two-point goals and 10 assists, made a strong impression on Stankovic in a collegeall-star game last spring.

"He scored a few goals," said Stankovic, who coached the East squad. "I could sense he wanted to be a pro and would be a good one."

In May, Dieter joined the Baltimore Blast for an exhibition in England against one of Europe's top teams, Aston Villa. Dieter scored a key third-quarter goal in the Blast's 4-2 victory.

It was not a shot for the ages, but Dieter accepted it eagerly: "I got a deflection off Rusty Troy's toe. I just happened to be there to play the ball. I kicked it off the post, and it went in."

Stankovic said he sensed that Dieter was nervous before the game and sought to calm him, telling him to play his own game.

"He did an excellent job," Stankovic said. "After he scored, he could say to himself, 'Hey, I can compete against these guys, even if they are among the best in the world.' "

Two months later, on July 27, Dieter was the first player signed by Baltimore's newly named soccer team, the Spirit.

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