The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
Lance Calloway and Bellingham United will play their first-ever pre-season match on April 6th when the Hammers host the San Carlos All Stars at 7 PM at Civic Stadium. The first time we spoke with head coach Calloway he was already looking at the bigger picture of bringing high level adult semi-pro soccer to The City of Subdued Excitement.
by David Falk
Bellingham United FC head coach Lance Calloway told us a while back that he was already getting his head around the idea that the Hammers could really take hold in the northern Washington city. The club will be an American “import” in the mainly Canadian Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL).
“I think there are a few goals I would like to see with B.U.F.C. The first and most obvious goal I feel as a coaching staff is we need to work to identify and organize a great group of quality players so that we are able to develop a squad that is competitive and playing an exciting, attractive and effective style of soccer that local soccer fans want to see,” Calloway explains. The recent open tryouts and offseason player moves have brought the club to the brink of using the group they have collected in actual pre-season matches.
“We also want to develop a squad that our community’s younger players can look up to. For a longer term goal I would like to see B.U.F.C. become a goal for local players to want to be a part of.”
Lance sees various ways this can happen. ”Some might be playing with the squad to stay match fit between collegiate seasons, or we might provide higher level players in our community a competitive local option so they can stay close to home and still play high-level soccer.”
The first season will be a bit of testing the PCSL and local soccer waters, but Calloway believes their are plenty of big fish to help the Hammers swim.
“The Whatcom County area has produced some great local talent over the years through the Whatcom FC Rangers program. The Rangers have developed several players who have recently gone on and joined the USSDA programs operated by Crossfire or Sounders FC, as well as sending a good number of players into a variety of college programs. We also have a great college program here in our community with Western Washington University. Travis Connell has a great group of players continually coming into our area. Whatcom CC has in the past several years developed some quality players as well.”
The year since the Hammers announced their founding has been one of establishing a soccer “business” off of the pitch and finding players for on the pitch. ”I have been coaching within the WFC Rangers for 19 years and have been very fortunate over the years to have worked with a lot of great players who went away and had successful collegiate playing careers, returned to the area, and are still playing at a high level,” says Calloway. “Some of these players have been playing in the Premier Leagues up in BC as well as playing for the WSA Rapids. I think we have a good number of quality local talent to establish a quality core.”
Now that open tryouts are over and the first chance to see what he’s got is less than a week away, Lance can reveal a bigger vision for the Hammers.
“I truly believe B.U.F.C. can become a great focal point for our soccer community from the standpoint that the squad and its players can be great role models for the youth players in our community. Personally, I am excited to be a part of the start of a long standing soccer club in our community!”