goalWA.net begins a special series of features today with a visit with goalkeeper Joe Rayburn. Joe is one of the guys who has put on the shirt of the South Sound Football Club. SSFC (“The “Shock”) is a grass-roots community club that has been able to do remarkable things in the greater Tacoma area. The club has played indoors and out, gone to nationals in various competitions and in the summer of 2014 was a founding member of the Evergreen Premier League (EPLWA). John Crouch, the club’s owner, is most proud of the chance his club gives players to take their game to the next level. Here’s our first chat with an SSFC player. Made in South Sound: Joe Rayburn.
“I started playing soccer in the Portland-Beaverton area when I was really young,” Joe Rayburn tells goalWA.net. “I played in the “kick-and-chase” leagues on the weekends in my grade school years and transitioned to club and goalkeeper when I was in the fifth grade. I started growing out of positions to play in the field but found I was still athletic enough to stay in goal so I stuck with it. I played for a smaller club called Tualatin Hills United Soccer Club for my U11 years before switching to FC Portland for the rest of youth career. I played in the United States Development Academy for US Youth Soccer when the league first started back in my high school years.”
Joe moved a bit north to play college soccer. He ended up in Parkland playing for the Pacific Lutheran Lutes in the Northwest Conference. It was there that he got involved with South Sound FC.
“I connected with the Shock during my Junior year at Pacific Lutheran. My teammates Derek Johnson and Taylor Jackson had close connections with the coaching staff there and were looking for local players to form a team over the summer to compete in the USASA U-23 league (this all the year prior to the formation of the EPLWA). I got in touch with John Crouch and Adam Becker and started supplementing my training with the Seattle Sounders U-23 team with game time at the Shock during the summer of 2013.”
Rayburn says his playing time with SSFC was a great help for him in taking that next step. “Playing for the Shock really helped me going into my senior season at PLU. In the previous summers I just went home to Portland and tried my best to receive training from some former club coaches, but the Shock gave me the opportunity to get some game repetitions and training that kept me sharp going into the fall season.”
What was Joe’s personal favorite highlight in an SSFC kit? “Easy, San Antonio for the USASA U-23 national tournament,” he says. “We lost in the semi-final to the Carolina Railhawks U-23 squad in overtime, but came back to beat a team from Chicago in the consolation game in penalties.”
Rayburn took his time at PLU and experiences with the Shock and turned that into a roster spot this season for the Kitsap Pumas. It was quite a ride. Rayburn notched his first professional start and win with the Pumas on July 6th. (Kitsap pays its players a small stipend.) “I just recently finished up a season in the PDL with the Kitsap Pumas in the USL PDL last summer. It was a great experience and we nearly won the national championship, but fell one goal short to the Michigan Bucks 1-0 in the final. Currently I’m playing when I can with an amateur team in the Portland area called International Portland Select. We compete in the Oregon Premier Soccer League and get exposure to some great teams in the area with former college standouts mixed into the rosters. I also have plans to join an indoor side in Vancouver, Washington here in the next month or so.”
What’s next for Rayburn? Whatever it is, it will involve soccer.
“My future in soccer is undetermined at the moment, but I do know that the game will always be a part of me,” says Joe.
“I hope to find time in my work schedule to land a coaching position and pass my love of the game and goalkeeping to younger players. Soccer in the Northwest is unlike any other culture in the country or even the world. Between the Sounders and Timbers or even the college teams, there is so much energy potential for the sport to grow and I want to be a part of every minute of it.”
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