ARLINGTON, Wash.—It was about four months ago that the name “Arlington Aviators” won a goalWA.net online vote as the new moniker of a PASL club. Since then the new team has picked a crest, uniforms, practiced and played five league matches. This weekend the Aviators host two big league contests that will determine if they can stay alive for a playoff spot. It seems like just the right time to check in with owner / head coach Phil Bartlow to get his take on his club’s first-ever season.
“I’ve been pleased with the crowds for our two home games so far,” Bartlow says. “The first game we sold 75 tickets and the second game we sold 110. I’m sure some of that increase is because we were playing Snohomish but we’ve heard from a lot of fans that like what were doing. We’ve even had pretty good support when we’ve traveled to other facilities. We’ve had good business support as well with multiple sponsors stepping up to be a part of our inaugural season.”
Bartlow thought he knew the PASL fairly well, but now that he has a team in the league, he’s willing to share a few things that have surprised him. “Two things come to mind. First, the level of play is better than I expected having really only seen one (bad) game at Marysville last year. There are some really good players in this league with good skills that would translate well to the next level. I’ve got a few of those guys that, if they want it bad enough, could make it to the pro level. The second thing that has been a surprise is, with the exception of one facility, all of the other teams coaches, managers and facility operators have been very helpful and easy to work with. From the operations side and how to run a game day, Lance and Mark at Bellingham have been an enormous help with game day schedules, programs, tickets, etc. On the field, Vasco from Snohomish has actually come out to our practice and helped coach our team. Kind of a strange situation at first but he just wants to make the whole league better and I really have appreciated his help. Vasco and I played against each other growing up so it wasn’t as weird for us but some of the looks on our guys faces when he walked in the first time where priceless.”
The Aviators have changed their schedule, resulting in home matches this Saturday and Sunday to complete their home season. “When the schedule first came out, I noticed that we were scheduled a home game against Wenatchee on January 19th at Soccer First. Soccer First had already scheduled an MMA event on the 19th so I called Bud at Wenatchee to see if we could switch our home games and I even spoken to Marian with the league about it. Unfortunately I didn’t realize I needed to speak with Mike at Wenatchee to make the change and when I checked in with them two weeks or so ago, things hadn’t been changed on their end. A simple misunderstanding that we took care of and hopefully it won’t be snowing when we have to go over there on February 9th.”
Two final home matches will give Bartlow a chance to dole about some thank-yous. “We will be honoring Wilson Tsoi this weekend for his help in naming the team and coming up with the logo idea. I’ve got a team jersey for him signed by the whole team that we’ll be presenting to him probably at halftime on Saturday. We will do some sort of fan appreciation after our game on Sunday, just not sure what it will be yet.”