2013 – Around the World and Close to Home
Benedict XVI becomes the first Pope since in nearly 600 years to retire the Supreme Court strikes down federal law defining marriage as between a man and woman and multiple bombs explode near the Boston Marathon finish line, killing three and injuring 170.In Washington, the Interstate-5 Skagit River Bridge collapses after an oversized track hits part of truss the tunnel-boring machine named Bertha begins digging a new State Route 99 under Seattle and The Boys in the Boat, a book detailing the University of Washington’s 1936 Olympic gold medal-winning crew, reaches No. 5 on The New York Times best-seller list almost instantly.
Here Comes the Reign (Again)
It’s about time. Opportunities for girls and women in soccer have always lagged. Six years for state youth cups, seven years for high school championships and 16 years for college varsity play. Still, the wait for Washington’s first professional women’s club is far longer than all those combined.
Some 39 years after young lads pictured themselves as future Sounders, the girls get role models of their own. The Pacific Northwest, passed over during the first two women’s leagues despite a well-known penchant for producing player as well as passionate support, finally can plant its flag with the arrival of Seattle Reign FC.
Just five months after creation of the National Women’s Soccer League and awarding Bill and Teresa Predmore one of eight charter franchises, Reign FC take their first kicks, and although there are plenty of early growing pains, a footing is in place for future achievement in developing accomplished players, diehard fans and a club capable of winning trophies every season.
The inspiration for the Predmores name the club is rooted in Seattle’s very first professional women’s team, the American Basketball League’s Seattle Reign played from 1996-98. The key piece the club’s formation is Laura Harvey, the young manager hired away from England’s Arsenal Ladies.
Roster building begins when U.S. Soccer allocates national team players, including the homecoming of Richland native Hope Solo. In the 10 years since completing her collegiate career on Montlake, Solo has played in four leagues and locations including Sweden, France, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Atlanta and Boca Raton, Florida. After Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) abruptly folds in 2012, just a few months before the 2012 Olympic Games, Solo was among the USWNT stars playing a half-season or so for the amateur Sounders Women of the USL W-League.
In theory, allocation headliners Solo, Megan Rapinoe and Amy Rodriguez, along with two internationals each from Canada and Mexico and Welsh midfielder Jess Fishlock will provide the nucleus of a strong Seattle side. In reality, the band never gets back together. Rodriguez soon reveals she is pregnant and takes medical leave. Rapinoe is playing with France’s Lyon through May, and Solo is out until June while recovering from wrist surgery. Consequently, it’s a rough start for Reign FC.
Following a draw at Chicago, they lose nine consecutive matches. Only when Solo and Rapinoe join the fold do fortunes rise and crowds begins to grow at Starfire. “They (Solo and Rapinoe) bring belief, they bring professionalism and they bring experience,” says Harvey. “They understand what it takes to win, and sometimes that’s the hardest thing to get into a player when they haven’t been in those situations before.”
Seattle turns it around, going unbeaten (4-0-2) over six matches and attracting capacity crowds to two of the final three home dates. It’s too late to contend for the playoffs, but Harvey ends the season with a firm sense of which pieces are in place for the second season and beyond.
Harvey makes 15 separate roster moves – nine by trade – in the first 10 weeks of the offseason. Most notably, she signs Scottish international Kim Little, one of her key players at Arsenal, and acquires Sydney Leroux of the USWNT and another 2012 member of Sounders Women.
It took a long time to bring a pro women’s club to the state. It just took a little bit longer to create the kind of Reign team that will capture trophies as well as fans’ imagination.