The pillars of the Spokane Sounders are the foundation of how the club approaches operating. Those pillars of Development, Competition, Community, and Enjoyment play a large role in everything and over the next two weeks we will explore it in the Why Spokane Sounders series.
While Development is a claim that many youth programs will publicize, Spokane Sounders proof is in the amount of players that have or are playing professionally and collegiately. The tally of players moving on to pro or collegiate soccer for all or the other clubs in the area combined would still not equal the amount advancing from Spokane Sounders.
The club is extremely proud of the success of its players. In just the past five years several former players have moved on to professional playing opportunities.
The duo of Kelcie Hedge and Kelsey Turnbow lead the way as players to be drafted by the top flight National Women’s Soccer League. Drafted by Seattle, Kelcie Hedge will return for her second season in the league this summer and upon completion of her accolade-filled senior season at Santa Clara and her master’s degree, Turnbow will move onto the league with Chicago in 2022. Also playing professionally at the moment is Larkin Russell. Since finishing her career at Portland she has moved on to play in the first division in Israel.
Going through the academy route, Ray Serrano and Chris Peretti have also done well with their clubs.
Serrano quickly impressed the technical staff since joining the club’s academy program via the affiliation between the Sounders and Spokane Sounders. Serrano moved to the west side in 2016 to play up with the U15s and was quickly moved further up to the U17s after the guesting with them at the Generation Adidas Cup that fall. In February of 2018 he became the youngest player to sign a professional deal with the first or second team when he became a member of the USL side Tacoma Defiance at age 15.
A member of the B2003 side, Peretti joined the Real Salt Lake Academy last fall and is also seeing professional opportunities. As teams began preparing for the 2021 MLS season, RSL invited him to play for the Real Monarchs USL team in a preseason friendly against the MLS Vancouver Whitecaps. He started in the back line and played a majority of the match.
It seems every year it becomes harder and harder to follow all of the alumni as they move onto the next level. The numbers and vast array of programs they choose is impressive. The last few years all of our ECNL and GA graduating players have had the choice to continue playing collegiate soccer, though some choose to attend college without playing soccer. Numerous players off of our RCL teams have the same opportunity. No other club in the area comes even remotely close to continually moving players to the next level.
The guidance of Kevin Moon on the girls side and Nick Piger on the boys as college advisors has provided an unprecedented amount of success in leading players and families through the recruitment and selection process, facilitating the best fit for these young student-athletes as they begin the next stage of their life.
Also amazing is the amount of success our alumni continue to achieve on the pitch at the collegiate level. In the last collegiate season alone (2019), 18 club alumni were named to their league’s All-Conference lists. Among them were Cascade Conference Co-Offensive Player of the Year Rylee Rassier and All-Region United Soccer Coaches selections Hedge, Turnbow, Taryn Baxter, Chloe Gellhaus and Claire Neder. Plus, Darby Doyle nearly won the DII national championship with a Western Washington tournament run that finished in overtime heartbreak in the final. In recent years another major award winner included two-time Big Sky Offensive MVP Chloe Williams.
Plenty of former Spokane Sounders (former Shadow and Elite) players are giving back to the community by working with the next generation. Among them include Jesse Retan, Marissa Mykines, John Palladino and Torrey Finn. Tim Seely played for the U17 National Team. Kevin Moon, Bryan Hernandez, Ali McCready, Brett Wanner, Adrian Washington, Jay Vela, Jesse Retan, Marissa Mykines, John Palladino, Abbas Faridnia, Matt Folsom, Jason Sandobal, Nick Piger, Mike Pellicio, Liz Fleming, and many more are part of a group of 20 coaches on staff that have played at the collegiate level. Having coaches from the club returning to impart their knowledge and experiences on today’s youth are an immeasurable positive for the club.
Though on hiatus due to COVID, the Shadow First Teams are another component of the club’s development structure, providing current up-and-coming players an opportunity to train and play with and against college-level players across the region during the summer. No other club provides their alumni an opportunity to return home for the summer to play on the Shadow Men’s and Women’s First Teams. The rosters are made up of vast amounts of our alumni with other area college players and a few post-collegiate standouts such as Megan Lindsay, Jesse Retan and Marissa Mykines. The First Teams create a unique learning environment for the college prospects that earn an opportunity to join or train with the teams as well as an entertaining and educational viewing experience for younger members of the club that attend the games.
More from the Why Spokane Sounders Series [+]