Catching up with 1980’s Husky Soccer star Jeff Aumell

Jeff Aumell played soccer for the Washington Huskies from 1985-1988.

He graduated from Inglemoor High in 1985.

I was excited to recently see some videos of Jeff as a Husky and was glad when we made contact and could talk about his life in soccer, then and now.

See the Q & A and videos below. Thanks to UW’s Joanie Komura for the photos.

David Falk: What were a few highlights of your UW soccer career?

Jeff Aumell: My senior year we won the conference with a 14-4-1 record and also won the Pac-10 tournament but missed getting into the NCAA tournament. Being named to the all conference team my senior season was an honor along with other great players including Kasey Keller, Wade Weber, Scott Benedetti, Dick McCormick, Eddie Henderson, John Hamel and many others.

Matches against Seattle Pacific University (SPU) were always a highlight, a local rival that attracted big crowds at Memorial Stadium and Husky Stadium. These matches were billed “The Battle of Seattle” and provided bragging rights to all the local players. We had a series of ties with SPU but beat them my senior year 3-1 in Husky Stadium.

The game against PLU was a memorable one. We were losing one nil and fought back to win 3-1. The following weekend we traveled to the PAC-10 tournament and I scored two more goals against Stanford and was named to the All-PAC-10 team, it was a great week of soccer.

Describe yourself as a player: positions played, skills, style, and temperament.

I’ve always been a midfielder, I try to keep it simple and shooting has been one of my best skills. As a result, I’ve moved up to forward and have more opportunities for scoring goals.

What do you remember most about that hat trick v. PLU (see video above)? Who shot the video of the match?

I think someone from PLU’s coaching staff shot that video. My roommate at the time Eddie Henderson had a premonition the day before that I was going to score a hat trick, he still reminds me of that to this day.

How is the college game and the UW soccer program different now than it was back then?

Back then we played on a football field inside Husky Stadium. The field had a high crown, a thin layer of astroturf and the end zone was like a scouring pad. The field was very narrow and the ball was always skipping out of bounds into the moat. It was kind of ominous playing in an empty stadium with a capacity of 74,000.

Now the soccer program has a beautiful soccer-only grass pitch in Husky Soccer Field, 1,500+ fans for each game, frequent alumni events and improved facilities all around. The program has made great strides in terms of facilities, coaching staff, and support.

The current program is in a much stronger conference and the competition is much better. Back then we played in the Northwest Collegiate Soccer Conference, mostly local colleges in the Pacific Northwest. There were some great teams with Portland, Simon Fraser, and SPU. Strength of schedule was a key factor in us not getting into the NCAA playoffs.

What’s your take on the current state of UW Men’s soccer?

UW soccer is a great program with a rich history of producing great teams and players. It is nice to see so many UW Soccer alumni playing in the MLS. Jamie Clark just got his first season under his belt. He is a top coach and a great guy. He’s leading the team and program in the right direction to be a NCAA playoff contender. Disappointing they didn’t get into the NCAA playoffs this year. The program is in good hands and continues to have a bright future.

What was it like to go to the World Cup last year? What are some of your biggest memories from the tournament/trip?

The World Cup in South Africa was amazing, a first on African soil. It was great to see the country embrace the World Cup and fans from around the world. The opening match was electrifying. When South Africa scored the first goal the entire country went wild. We were in Durban and couldn’t get into the FanFest because the crowds were too enormous. It felt like there were a million people in the streets celebrating with their vuvuzelas.

The Durban Moses Mabhida Stadium near the Indian Ocean beach was breathtaking with its massive arch. Seeing teams in Durban such as Brazil, Portugal, Germany, Spain, and Holland were a dream come true. Going to the top of Table Mountain on the cableway in Cape Town was also pretty amazing. It is now one of the new official 7 wonders of the world.

The FanFests in Durban and Cape Town were great. Three matches a day, meeting locals and fans from around the world all celebrating soccer. It was a great experience I shared with Eddie Henderson, a former UW soccer teammate.

Eddie Henderson (center) hugs Aumell after a Huskies goal. (Joanie Komura)

How are you involved with the game today? I see you are a leading scorer in the GSSL for Kells FC…

I continue to play in the Greater Seattle Soccer League (GSSL) O-40 division with Kells Celtic F.C. We have a great group of guys and support from our sponsor Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub. We have consistently been towards the top of the table the past few seasons. Winning the top scorer award is just a reflection on the team and the great quality of soccer the team plays.

I have taken a break from coaching to spend more time with my family. I coached for many years after college and hold a USSF B license. For now I am focused on my two son’s Aidan (13) and Austin (16) who both play for Crossfire Premier. Between us all we play soccer almost every day of the week.

How has the overall soccer scene changed in Seattle since the mid 1980’s until now?

The soccer scene has changed dramatically. Having Sounders FC back is great. The Sounders organization seems to do almost everything right and the fan support is tremendous. When I was a kid we went to almost every Sounders game starting in ’74 in Memorial Stadium and then the Kingdome until ‘82. The opportunity for kids today is great, better coaching is available, better competition and better fields.

At a Huskies match in 2011: Three Inglemoor graduates! Jeff Aumell 1985, Jamie Finch 2007, Lee Funkhouser 1968. (Thanks to Janet Finch)

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