1998 – Around the World and Close to Home
The Good Friday Accord is reached in Northern Ireland, ending most of the violence of a conflict begun in the 1960s. U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya are bombed, killing 224 and injuring more than 4,500. Google is formed by two Stanford Ph. D. candidates. NHL players and professionals from other leagues participate in the Olympic Games for the first time, with the Czech Republic winning gold.
Europeans settle on a common currency, the Euro. President Bill Clinton is implicated in a sex scandal but denies allegations of a White House affair, Clinton is later impeached (and acquitted) for perjury and obstruction of justice, Titanic becomes the highest-grossing film of all-time and wins a record-tying 11 Oscars, and 76 million watch the final episode of Seinfeld.
After 36 years, the USS Missouri pulls anchor from Bremerton and relocates to Honolulu, Paul Westphal succeeds George Karl as Sonics coach, the Seattle Symphony leaves Seattle Center for a dedicated downtown home of its own, Benaroya Hall, and Washington State falls to Michigan in the Rose Bowl.
Money for Coaching
It was inevitable. Although Washington’s soccer foundation was built over many decades on the backs of thousands of volunteers, money would eventually become part of the equation.
In the beginning, sponsors of senior amateur sides were slipping a few bills to players, and this was long before the Hungarians claimed semipro status. Among coaches, the colleges started with modest, seasonal compensation before finally graduating to more full-time positions during the Nineties. It was only a matter of time, then, before the vast youth community was infiltrated by the almighty dollar.
America’s first paid youth coaches began cashing checks in the early Eighties. In 1983, Washington State Youth Soccer hired former Sounders boss Jimmy Gabriel as coaching director, to be succeeded a year later by his former assistant, Bobby Howe. It effectively set in motion the next phase: paying coaching directors for individual associations and teams.
Walter Schmetzer Sr. remembers his Lake City Hawks parents providing him holiday gifts, and there had been other teams acknowledging the efforts of coaches in some fashion.
Whether it was the sale of land to developers, hosting bingo nights, conducting camps or instituting fees for players, funding sources were identified. Initially, there were stipends to offset the cost of travel and meals, with Northshore and Lake Washington associations at the forefront. The amount might vary according to a coach’s license level. In time, the stipends would extend beyond just expenses and afford some coaches the opportunity, by taking on multiple teams, to make a modest living. The Pay to Play era had begun. There was no immediate effect, and over time coaches migrated to clubs with greater resources, and players inevitably followed.
Of course, when money got involved, expectations were heightened. Neighborhood teams gave way to picked teams and the pilfering of top players of neighboring teams. Talent was becoming concentrated. In the state league, there was significant separation between a division’s top few teams and the rest. All this would prompt new measures meant to further player development and create greater competition amongst these top teams.