The Huskies' Humble Beginnings

1958 – Around the World and Close to Home

The U.S. Supreme Court rules unanimously that schools must integrate. Transatlantic passenger jet travel begins between New York and both London and Rome. Manchester United's team plane crashes in Munich, killing 23. Major League Baseball reaches the West Coast, with the Dodgers and Giants leaving New York. Elvis Presley, who had sold 40 million records by age 23, is inducted into the U.S. Army. In Washington, Richland votes to become an incorporated city after being entirely government owned since 1943. Elgin Baylor leads Seattle University to the NCAA Final Four. Following public outcry, state officials agree to give Native American names to two new ferries, the Klahowya (meaning greetings) and Tillikum (friends).

The Huskies’ Humble Beginnings

Perhaps John Zavaglia saw something of himself or certainly his own immigrant family when he first laid eyes on his new assignment. The young men arriving that evening at Seattle’s Beacon Hill Playfield had very little in common with one another, except their age and their passion for playing football. Only here, in the nation where they came to study, it was known as soccer.

A few days earlier, Zavaglia had been a captive audience to his dentist. While having a crown installed on a tooth, he listened as his dentist shared the story of the Husky Soccer Club. It was a collection of international students attending the University of Washington, and they were playing in the State League on Sundays. But according to Dr. Rogers, they weren’t maximizing their talents they weren’t playing together.

Zavaglia, the fortysomething son of an Italian immigrant, was intrigued. Born in Black Diamond, the early-century hotbed of local soccer, he had taken to the game, as well as baseball, at a young age. He played for Boeing’s State League entry and had successfully coached the boys’ CYO team at St. George School, a couple miles away, also on Beacon Hill.

It’s doubtful that the Husky SC had designs on vying for trophies. After all, they were playing in the shadow of established clubs such as the Vikings and Buchan Bakers, plus the emerging Hungarians.

“They were just a good, fun-loving group,” recalled John Zavaglia, the coach’s son, decades later. “They were from all over the world, foreign exchange students. The problem was that they were all individualists. They each had their own style they didn’t play well or gel as a team.” As their coach, John Zavaglia hoped to change that.

College soccer in the late Fifties was about to experience a growth spurt. Varsity play had expanded west of St. Louis to California and then Colorado. As the NCAA announced plans to initiate championship play in 1959, Husky SC was effectively the seedling that would grow to a towering evergreen in following decades. It was partially funded by the Visiting International Students’ Association, which represented approximately 500 students on campus. Husky SC had played under the VISA flag beginning in 1957-58 and would continue on through to the establishment of a UW varsity program.

Much like the first few editions of the UW varsity to come, Husky SC was comprised of students hailing primarily from Europe and Africa. John Nketiah and Emmanuel Kwapong, both of Ghana, possessed dazzling attacking abilities. Alex Fry, the goalkeeper, was the lone local. One player who preferred to avoid attention would go on to contribute greatly to both the Huskies’ heritage and the greater Seattle community.

Dick Aguirre, who grew up around the game in southern California, was becoming a key contributor to Jim Owens’s UW football team. Aguirre started at tight end on Washington’s Rose Bowl-winning teams in 1960 and ’61 and was a fullback for Husky SC.

“Dick was chiseled, in perfect shape and said he wanted to stay in shape during the offseason,” explained Joe Zavaglia, who often tagged along with his dad to practices. Aguirre wanted his participation to remain under the radar to coach Owens, however. “It was all hush-hush because he was doing this on his own, on the side.”

Aguirre would later introduce himself as Ricardo and a Chicano. In 1972 he joined other activists in occupying the abandoned Beacon Hill School, a few blocks south of that playfield, demanding that the building be converted into a community center that served Latinos. City officials eventually gave in, and El Centro de la Raza – The Center for the People of All Races – was created. Aguirre became a founding member of the nonprofit and would serve there for more than 40 years, becoming well-known to youth for his regular visits to neighboring schools.

John Zavaglia and Ricardo (Dick) Aguirre: sons of immigrants who endeavored to make other immigrants to Washington feel at home.

Northwest Champion
Portland Club Budapest 2:3 Scotty’s Fish & Chips (aet)
State Men's Champion
Scotty’s Fish & Chips (won both halves)
State Knockout Cup
Scotty’s Fish & Chips 4:3 Norselander Vikings

1958: The Huskies' Humble Beginnings

Guided by the son of an Italian miner, International students gather to form the University of Washington's first soccer team, the forerunner of the varsity program.

Scotty's Wins First NW Title
April 20, 1958

Scotty’s Fish & Chips work extra time to win their first Northwest championship, 3-2, over Portland’s Club Budapest at Westmoreland Park. It’s the Scots’ fifth major trophy of the season.

Hat Trick Cements Scotty's Title
February 23, 1958

Art Smith's three goals proves ample firepower for Scotty's Fish & Chips to down Husky SC, 6-1, to win the state league second half at Lower Woodland. Scotty's finishes 11-1-0, with a six-point cushion over Germania, whom they defeated, 3-1, a week earlier behind a Smith brace. The Puget Sound Navigation trophy is the first prize for Scotty's sponsor Bob Wyllie although manager Bill Chenoweth has won several before. Scotty's, which also won the first half, also takes the overall season crown.

NCAA Approves Soccer Tournament
January 4, 1958

The NCAA Executive Committee approves sponsorship of a soccer championship tournament during meetings in Philadelphia. A survey had shown 104 member institutions are interested in competing. In 1959, the first tournament is conducted. The University of Washington begins a varsity program four years later.

Vikings Win Ninth Straight
November 30, 1958

Ted Wittenberger scores two goals, leading Norselander Vikings to their ninth straight league victory, 3-1 over Buchan Bakers on a rain-drenched Queen Anne field. With his hat trick Karman Koteles keeps the Hungarians in hot pursuit in a 6-3 win over Seattle Rendering, which features U.S. Olympic ski jumper Ragnar Ulland.

Scotty's Nullify Vikings Comeback, Cop Cup
March23, 1958

George Goers scores a hat trick, but it's his fourth goal that seals the Scotty's Fish & Chips victory over Norselander Vikings in the Puget Sound Power & Light Cup final, 4-3, at Lower Woodland. Goers scores three times for a 3-nil lead. However, it's wiped out by two from Larry Petersen and a penalty rebound conversion from Bob Simonsen. In the closing minutes of regulation, Goers hits a penalty kick to secure the third trophy of the season for Scotty's.

Vikings Reclaim First, Near Title
December 28, 1958

An early second-half header from Larry Peterson is the difference as Norselander Vikings reclaim first place from the Hungarians, 1-0, at Lower Woodland Park. The Vikings, who trailed the Magyars by a point going into the game, proceed to clinch the first half trophy the following week.

Hungarians Win Knockout Cup
September 28, 1958

Seattle Hungarians thrill a big crowd at Lower Woodland with both style and scoring in winning the Pacific Coast Coal Cup, 3-1, over Norselander Vikings. The undefeated Hungarians go to the wings to avoid the Viks central defense and score after 15 minutes through Al Mraz. Charlie Boyer doubles it after scoring from a long defensive clearance. Thor Ronning mounts a comebacks for Norselander, but it's blunted when teenager Les Mueller gets the Magyars' third to clinch the knockout trophy, the first of many over the coming decade.

Scotty's Keeps Rolling, Takes Five-a-Side
April 13, 1958

A last-minute goal from John Phelps delivers the 15th annual Five-a-Side trophy to Scotty's Fish & Chips, 3-2 over Taurus of Vancouver at Catholic Memorial. It's the 10th goal of the day for Phelps, who scored his team's second. Scotty's wins all four matches and by a goal differential of 15-6, and the tournament field of 24 is the largest in many years.

Study Shows Soccer's Surging Popularity
May 11, 1958

The Associated Press reports soccer's popularity as a participant sport is surging in America. More than 200 colleges are now fielding teams. The National Challenge Cup boasted a record 148 entries with another 179 in the Amateur Cup. The U.S. Seventh Army also reports 3,000 soldiers are competing on 180 teams.

Top Teams Test Canadians
March 16, 1958

Washington's finest split a doubleheader with visitors from British Columbia before more than 700 fans at Lower Woodland. Recently crowned state champion Scotty's Fish & Chips scores a 6-4 decision over New Westminster Legionnaires while Vancouver's Wallace, unbeaten in three years, blanks Germania, 4-0. Harry Hoodwink's hat trick and two goals from Andy Phillips fuel Scotty's.

The Hungarians have shown real craft, letting the leather do the work and leaving the big kick out of the game.
Ron Tullis, Seattle P-I reporter
On this Day in History
March 1, 1953
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