TACOMA, WA— The Tacoma Stars are rebooting and they begin their third distinct era on Saturday night October 25 at 7:30 PM the Tacoma Soccer Center when they host Seattle Impact FC of the Major Arena Soccer League.
Stars 1.0 were the stuff of legend and long-lasting memories. In a short window of about two years with Steve Zungul and Preki on board they filled the Tacoma Dome and made noise in the playoffs. The other years in the MISL (Major Indoor Soccer League) run of the Stars were not nearly as bright. The era lasted from 1983 until 1992.
Stars 2.0 were in their own way more successful. The PASL era (Premier Arena Soccer League and Professional Arena Soccer League) included two National Titles. Playing at the Tacoma Soccer Center, Starfire and then the Pacific Sports Center, the PASL era lasted from around 2004 until 2013.
Stars 3.0 are jumping back into action with both feet, starting a third era along with a whole new league in the Northwest, the Western Indoor Soccer League (WISL). In this incarnation the Stars will use the traditional logo and will wear kits modeled after those worn at the height of the MISL days.
Stars 3.0 are hitting the ground running thanks to South Sound FC Shock, an indoor-outdoor club owned by John Crouch that has brought his talented players to the Stars and helped start the WISL. Crouch is the Tacoma Stars General Manager. “It’s been an interesting time transitioning the Shock into the Stars,” he says.”Having a coach like Darren Sawatzky has allowed me to focus on building things off the field. It’s pretty exciting to see a handful of South Sound guys contributing to this Stars team and also moving on to the next level with the Impact. The Shock on the indoor side always struggled to have a venue we could call home and here with the Stars we couldn’t be more happy about playing in our home venue that we all grew up in, the Tacoma Soccer Center.”
Crouch knows that being Stars 3.0 comes with expectations. “We are doing our best to recreate the excitement and memories that fans remember from the 80’s. It’s just the beginning but we are honored to have this opportunity and are committed to growing it to hopefully someday emulate some of what it used to be.”
The new Stars have been practicing, holding tryouts, and gathering talent for the WISL season. “We have had a rotating group of players in an open training format so many players have attended. Following the tryouts this past Sunday, we cut the group down so we could prepare for a week for this game,” says head coach Darren Sawatzky. “The past few weeks have really been kick arounds to get an idea on the player level with this group. The players are getting more fit and with each training they see the structure we will look to employ for our season.”
The Stars are approaching Saturday’s pre-season match with Seattle as a learning experience.
“The Impact is the professional team and the players they deemed as the top players playing for this team in Tacoma in the past were picked up by them,” says Sawatzky. “For a group of amateur players, this will be a nice test of level against the professional indoor team in Seattle. We will compete and give the effort needed to maximize our potential, the cards will fall the way they will.”
Crouch believes his head coach, who will call on local indoor legend Greg Howes for technical advice, is ready to bring his talents inside. “Darren is one of the best coaches in the game of soccer and his coaching staff brings tons of experience to the field. I’d expect to see this team be extremely organized and show a lot of discipline while bringing a dynamic style that should bring a lot of goals.”
Whatever era the Stars have found themselves in, there always seems to be a sense of place, a rallying cry to honor Tacoma and make the Stars a part of the family.
“The Tacoma Stars is the most iconic and exciting brand name I have ever worked with,” John Crouch says. “I have so much pride in the memories surrounding this brand from my childhood and the opportunity to bring it back to Tacoma. The Tacoma Soccer Center has been home to the Stars from the very beginning so we are really excited about the memories that this occasion will stir in that building. We also hope to give the next generation that same excitement I had for the Stars when I was a kid.”
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