THINK TANK FC: Breakthrough year for Seattle Stars FC Men and Women

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Think Tank FC talks about running adult soccer clubs at the elite / semi-pro level in the state of Washington and the Northwest. David Falk is the Media Director for the Evergreen Premier League, Western Indoor Soccer League and Northwest Premier League. He founded soccer news website in 2012.

Seattle Stars FC won the Evergreen Premier League in 2017. In three previous seasons in the statewide competition the Stars had never had a winning record. (Stars photo)

THINKTANK-untitled (1)Seattle Stars Football Club saw growth in pretty much every area you can measure in 2017. The Evergreen Premier League Stars Men won the trophy. This is a side that finished 7th, 7th and 6th in their three previous seasons. The Northwest Premier League Stars Women went from 5th place in 2016 to a 10-2-0 record and hosting the league Final this year. Stars Founder Margarito Avila gave a simple answer as to why everything is a brighter shade of green for the Stars these days: People.

Clubs are a reflection of the people they attract and retain, and in 2017 the Stars got big boosts from new General Manager Steven Lynn and new Women’s Head Coach Chris Wells. Once the new people arrive – a club set in its ways might dampen their enthusiasm for change – but to the credit of the Stars long-timers they welcomed it. It paid off in a huge way.

“Steven brought in structure and accountability,” says Avila. “Chris surprised us with the players he was able to bring to the Stars Women all season long.”

SeattleStarsFCLogo (1)The clubs were dynamite on the pitch but the bigger picture is that they increased buy-in from players, coaches and fans. (See photos above.)

The Stars got a new crest, placed ads in local newspapers, rented a tour bus for their trip to Spokane, got new kits and gear, had giant flags featuring their crest made, tripled their coverage on social media, and bolstered the talent level on both the Men’s and Women’s sides. All in a single season.

NWPL Primary CrestIf adversity shows what kind of people a club has – then 2017 was a big winner for the Stars in that department as well. The club handled the death of Haylei Hughes in a professional, touching manner. The NWPL Final was an admirable balance of honoring the fallen and moving forward to cap off a season.

eplwa-600-cropPeople. Sure, the Stars got a new influx of cash to get their gear. But it was people, allowed to do their thing, that have changed the direction of the club. The Men’s side under Head Coach Omar Lara is now getting players from the University of Washington. The connection with the Huskies makes the future look very promising. The NWPL Stars Women under Chris Wells were able to draw talent from higher levels to mix in with local adult players. It made a huge difference.

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Youth soccer clubs can sell themselves on their players – cute, growing, full of promise. But what happens when adult clubs reach out for financial backing? You’d better have your act together…

Organize your club’s efforts to get sponsorships. Put a single “go-getter” in charge and let them build a network within the club to reach  out to the business community.

Come up with a well-written sponsorship letter.

Create “packages” for sponsorship for businesses and supporters.

Go out of your way to ‘over-deliver’ to your sponsors

Document what your relationship entails

Use social media

A lot of work goes in to getting a sponsor. Do just as much work, or more – in keeping them. The message I  keep hearing over and  over again is to be careful not to ‘over promise’ or ‘over sell.’ It is far better to present your club as it it – with realistic expectations for sponsors – and then to exceed those expectations.

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Promotion / Relegation goes mainstream

That was some week!

The Promotion / Relegation issue hit the mainstream media with a suit filed jointly by an NASL and an NPSL club.   It was news around the world. The development energized some to organize further. #OpenSoccer is a popular hashtag on Twitter. This website is seeing increased traffic. This post was just  ahead of the news and looks at what pro/rel could look like in the USA.

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