New Beginnings

1962 – Around the World and Close to Home

For 13 days in October, the U.S. is in the grips of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Johnny Carson begins a 30-year run of hosting the Tonight Show and James Meredith becomes the first Black to enroll at the University of Mississippi. Washington welcomes the world to its doorstep for six months with the Seattle World’s Fair, which features the tallest structure west of the Mississippi, the Space Needle.

New Beginnings

While Washingtonians generally take no notice of Brazil’s second straight World Cup championship, the world’s game makes significant in-roads. Seattle Hungarians become the state’s first club to compete in a regional – indeed international – league, soccer is adopted as the official sport of the Century 21 Exposition, and varsity collegiate soccer is initiated for the first time, at the University Washington.

To this point, campuses featured only self-funded club programs. Washington’s had existed for several years, off and on. In 1958, a group known as VISA (Visiting International Students Association) adopted the Husky Soccer Club moniker while playing in the state’s senior first division, and in 1961 they reached the Knockout Cup final and win the annual 5-a-side tournament. It was a team comprised almost exclusively of international students. Ama Oji of Nigeria captained that squad.

Washington athletic director Joe Kearney announces the varsity program’s formation as a “minor sport” on Oct. 4. Graduate student Ron Jepson, 26, is chosen as head coach and soon begins practices. Jepson, who moved with his family from England to Seattle in 1953, plays for Buchan Bakers. With no other varsity programs in Washington, during the fall the Huskies play a hybrid schedule of Canadian schools (Victoria and British Columbia) on Saturdays and state league matches on Sundays.

Some players were members of other varsity teams. “I had a ski-jumper, Tom Nord,” recalled Jepson in 2015. “He was brought over on scholarship to ski. I had a Swedish guy on a gymnastics scholarship. There was quite a contingent from Africa.” The first roster lists 17 lettermen, including Jepson, and players originating from Spain, Canada, Turkey, Israel, West Germany, Liberia, Norway, Nigeria and France.

Practice space is at a premium. Sometimes the team performs drills around the Quad, but their preference is Denny Field. They are chased from the latter by P.E. instructors. Games are played at Lower Woodland Park. The equipment manager, says Jepson, is very helpful. Uniforms, footwear and balls are quickly sourced and provided. “It was like becoming a pro player after all the scratching around we’d done before,” notes Jepson. “It was a wonderful experience. They wanted us to look presentable.”

The Huskies first outing is Oct. 14 against the newly formed Century 21 team. The following weekend, UW wins its inaugural collegiate match at Victoria, 2-0. Milan Stolarik, an Ontario native, and Edvin Ronnestad, a Norwegian from the ski team, score. After completing the collegiate portion of their schedule, the players opt to pull-out of the state league due to the demands of studies and upcoming holidays. Jepson shares the administration is relieved going forward the Huskies would only play collegiate opposition.

Century 21’s presence in the state league begins amidst great pageantry, with dignitaries and media attending the made-for-media announcement by World’s Fair officials at Lower Woodland. Efforts to make soccer the fair’s official sport date back to May but come to fruition just weeks before the event closes, when the Seafair queen lifts a “dainty white slipper” to perform the ceremonial first kick. Brazilian Ruy Pereira cobbles together a team from 11 nationalities across five continents, all coached and skippered by Michael Crawford, an Australian studying at the University of Washington. The fair closes in October and by the following month the team gets a new sponsor, E&E Meats.

Seattle Hungarians strike out on their own after winning back-to-back state league championships. Owner Balint Ducz successfully applies to join the B.C.-based, semipro Pacific Coast League in August. White Center Stadium, located some 12 miles south of Woodland Park, becomes the Hungarians’ home but proves a challenge for fans to find, beginning with the opener Sept. 16 vs. St. Andrew’s. Practically unbeatable in the state, the Magyars find the PCL much more challenging, going seven games before achieving the first victory.

Northwest Champion
Hungarians def Portland German Club
State Men's Champion
Seattle Hungarians
State Knockout Cup
Hungarians 3:1 Washington Huskies

1962: New Beginnings

Soccer becomes the official sport of the Seattle World's Fair, the Hungarians promote themselves to the PCL and the University of Washington becomes the state's first collegiate varsity program.

PCL Start Humbles Hungarians
November 11, 1962

Life in the PCL proves much more challenging for Seattle Hungarians. They are winless (0-5-1) before meeting and beating North Shore United, 4-1, at home. Steve Furjesi scores two goals. Les Fabri and Mike Kuczi add others. A few days later the Loyal Vikings take them down a notch, winning a friendly, 3-1, but in league it’s the start of a five-match unbeaten run (4-0-2) that lifts them to mid-table.

Vikings Fill Void
December 23, 1962

With Seattle Hungarians having taken leave, Loyal Realty's Vikings coast to the first-half crown. The Vikings win for the eighth time in nine starts, 4-0 over Buchan Bakers. Alf Thorvik scores twice before the interval, and Fredi Kristiansen adds a second-half brace. Germania (6-3-0) takes second, followed by Buchan.

Hungarians Seek Bigger Challenge
May 6, 1962

Hungarians backer Balint Ducz, his side having dominated the state for the past two years, explores a future in the B.C.-based Pacific Coast League. The Magyars give PCL officials an indication of their potential in beating the Vancouver Pilseners, 4-0, in a friendly. Earlier, they won each major cup in Washington, a second straight Northwest championship and routed Vancouver Molson, 5-0.

Olsen Hits 5 to End Year
December 30, 1962

Reidar Olsen ends his year with a bang while igniting the Vikings' run to start the second half of the state league. Olsen scores five goals in Loyal's 9-1 lambasting of E&E Meats. Fredi Krisitansen adds his 17th goal in 10 games.

Hungarians Take Another Trophy
April 15, 1962

Mike Kuczi's two goals and assist fuel the Hungarians' victory, 3-1, over the Washington Huskies in the Knockout Cup final at West Seattle. Joe Samra nets the only UW goal.

CYO All-Stars End BC Reign
November 25, 1962

Eddie Craggs’s Seattle CYO All-Stars end Vancouver domination of the Oldershaw Trophy series. The Washington boys get a penalty save from goalkeeper John Dacy in a 0-0 draw with the North Shore All-Stars. Seattle, which had won the first leg, 2-0, snapped a 10-year losing streak with the aggregate win.

Soccer is Century 21's Official Sport
September 9, 1962

With considerable pomp and press coverage, Century 21 leaders announce that soccer is named the official sport of the Seattle World's Fair. Seafair king and queen participate in the gala event at Lower Woodland Park. Ruy Pereira da Silva of the Brazil Pavilion predicts soccer will be the national sport of the United States in the 21st Century. Da Silva organizes a multinational team to represent Century 21 in the state league during the fall.

Huskies Drop Out
December 9, 1962

A hectic schedule of playing back-to-back games for nearly 10 weeks finally catches up with the Washington Huskies. With final exams approaching, student-athletes opt to drop out of the state league. At the time, Washington (4-4-0) is tied for third. Officials remove all UW results from the table.

Huskies Win Intercollegiate Debut
October 20, 1962

Milan Stolarik and Edvin Ronnestad score goals as the University of Washington proves victorious in its inaugural intercollegiate game, winning 2-0 at the University of Victoria.

Vikings Victorious in Knockout
September 23, 1962

State association officials move the 1962/63 Knockout Cup to the fall, and fast-starting Loyal Vikings claim the first competition of the season. Second-half goals from Alf Thorvik and Fredi Kristiansen beat Buchan Bakers, 2-1, at Lower Woodland. Jimmy Gallagher counters for the Bakers.

University of Washington Goes Varsity
October 4, 1962

Men's soccer is granted minor sport status at the University of Washington, therefore becoming the state's first varsity intercollegiate program. Ron Jepson, an England-born engineering graduate student, was chosen to coach and will conduct training in two weeks. The Huskies schedule features games versus British Columbia collegiate programs on Saturdays and state league play on Sundays.

PCL Expands to Seattle
August 2, 1962

Seattle Hungarians are granted admission to the Pacific Coast League, becoming the first U.S.-based club in the 8-team semipro circuit. The Hungarians will play home matches at White Center Stadium where they will charge admission. Owner Balint Ducz begins fortifying his squad by adding Alex Bogdan from Portland, Zoltan Mako from Denver and Tommy Major from Victoria.

Five-a-Side Goes to Hungarians
April 8, 1962

Seattle Hungarians are the last team standing among the 28 who started the traditional Five-a-Side tournament at West Seattle Stadium. Their A team defeats Buchan's A side, 2-1, in the final. The field is strong, with three coming south from Vancouver and eight from Oregon.

Hungarians Take First Stage
January 7, 1962

A draw wins the state league's first stage for Seattle Hungarians at Lower Woodland. Larry Tomas and Alex Bogdan tally in a 2-2 tie with Buchan Bakers. The Hungarians go three points above both Loyal Vikings and Fort Lewis, who each have one match remaining.

Longtime Contributor Passes
November 3, 1962

A staunch supporter of the game for over 30 years, Natoli "Tollie" Rossi dies at 55. Rossi first established himself as a strong player for Seattle's Georgetown Merchants. More recently he coached youth teams and helped promote soccer throughout the community.

Soccer. When soccer is witnessed by 100,000 spectators and the players are among the best in the world, it is the most exciting game there is. It’s funny that soccer is so big all over the world, except in the United States.
Jim McKay, ABC Wide World of Sports host, on his most enjoyable sport to witness, as told to The Seattle Times
It's mostly made up of exchange students from many lands…Their enthusiasm for grand old game was whetted recently by the announcement that soccer had been recognized as a varsity sport.
Vince O'Keefe, The Seattle Times, describing initial UW roster
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