The Wash: Lasting impressions from the first WISL season

The Wash: Lasting impressions from the first WISL season

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The Wash is David Falk’s take on the world of soccer in The WA.

Read previous columns here.

by David Falk

WISL Logo - 600The Western Indoor Soccer League (WISL) has finished up a really fun first season. I was hired as the league’s Director of Communications and that role allowed me to see the new league from a unique viewpoint. I like what I saw.

It was a bit of a downer to start with just five clubs (the hopes were for six) but that quickly faded as matches got underway. The level of play was solid and entertaining, and there was a fresh excitement about the competition. Below are a few developments that are worth celebrating one more time.

Supporters Culture goes indoors

When the BUFC Black and White Army made the trip down to Tacoma for the league opener in November against the Stars, it ignited the supporters of both clubs in a season-long duel to outsing and out-support each other. Bellingham United had chanting and drums at all of their home matches. So did the Stars. The Tacoma Stars Satellites traveled all over the league. There was tifo (banners, flags) and other traditionally outdoor supporters displays coming alive in the dead of winter. It made for raucous atmospheres at matches.

BUFC Black & White Army at a 2014-15 WISL match.
BUFC Black & White Army at a 2014-15 WISL match.
Tacoma Stars Satellites.
Tacoma Stars Satellites.

Oly Town Artesians brand is born

The Oly Town Artesians launched in the WISL and instantly showed why the Capital needs soccer, indoors and out. Brandon Sparks ran a great operation with plenty for fans to do along with watching the matches. The club was branded well, and that overflowed into excellent coverage via their website and social media pages, and Sparks’ connections with more mainstream Oly press. The Artesians played well, made the playoffs, and also drew nice crowds.  Oly has a club! Let’s get them outdoors and into the Evergreen Premier League as soon as possible.

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Return of the Tacoma Stars

Never in all of my years of watching, loving, writing about and supporting local soccer have I seen a season as wild as the one the Stars just finished. They did go undefeated and win the WISL, a story in its own right. The rest of course is that they also took over for not one (Seattle Impact FC – MASL) but two (Tacoma Galaxy – PASL) clubs and were using over 40 local players to staff matches in all three leagues. I was paid to help the Stars with website and advertising, and by the time the whistle blew for the last MASL match in Missouri, everyone was exhausted, frazzled and ready for a break. A lot was accomplished, from winning the WISL to getting a taste of what it will take to compete nationally in the Pro MASL.

John Crouch must be exhausted! He founded the WISL, GM'ed the Stars, and helped run both the MASL transition and PASL (South Sound Shock) fill-in. Raise that trophy, John! (Wilson Tsoi)
John Crouch must be exhausted! He founded the WISL, GM’ed the Stars, and helped run both the MASL transition and PASL (South Sound Shock) fill-in. Raise that trophy, John! (Wilson Tsoi)

More of the same over in the PASL

The WISL was started so that there could be a local option for indoor clubs other than the PASL, a league run nationally with regional divisions. The PASL continued to dig its own grave locally as two clubs quit the division, leaving a string of unplayed matches that eventually became forfeits. The WISL didn’t miss a match, but in the PASL Seattle Impact Premier went down even before the MASL Impact did. In January the Tacoma Galaxy quit. The WISL promised owners a solidly-run league and they delivered. The PASL delivered yet another tumultuous, messy season. The Olympic Force thrived despite the chaos, and won the NW Division. In typical PASL fashion, they didn’t find out they would be going to Dallas for nationals until just a day ago.

There's more! The Tacoma Stars might not be at full strength as their season i sover, but they are fulfilling the second of a home-away agreement with the PASL NW Champions Olympic Force on Saturday.
There’s more! The Tacoma Stars might not be at full strength—as their season is over—but they are fulfilling the second of a home-away agreement with the PASL NW Champions Olympic Force on Saturday night in Bremerton.

Bigger, bright Future for the WISL

The Western Indoor Soccer League is ready to become more than it already is. What might that mean? Perhaps more PASL clubs will come over for the next season. Perhaps the WISL will develop regional divisions. Perhaps even associate with a national body that could organize national playoffs. Anything is possible. The league is flexible and willing to grow as the indoor scene might need or want it to.

What is NISA? We will find out this spring in developments that could also shape the future of the WISL. http://nisasoccer.com/
What is NISA? We will find out this spring in developments that could also shape the future of the WISL. http://nisasoccer.com/

We received emails from around the western half of the United States, asking about the WISL and opportunities. It was important to get through a first season and let one of the clubs earn the trophy before thinking about the future. John Crouch (WISL Commissioner) and Lance Calloway (Bellingham United) did a very nice job of stabilizing local indoor soccer as they ran the WISL with a clubs-and-players-first mantra.

Now both men are busy with their Evergreen Premier League clubs as preparations for that season get underway. Still, the WISL won’t be far from their minds. There will be changes in 2015-16, likely new clubs, maybe even a jump from five clubs to as many as ten.

Sounds like the off-season could leave plenty of impressions, too.

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2 thoughts on “The Wash: Lasting impressions from the first WISL season

  1. The Arlington Aviators introduction of play by play broadcasts matches and a weekly podcast was pretty big and a nice feature to the league as well.

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