TACOMA, WA—The Western Indoor Soccer League (WISL) club owners and operators met on Sunday September 10 at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma to make plans for the upcoming indoor soccer season. The WISL will play its fourth season starting this November. The five clubs competing for the title this year will be Bellingham United (2-time defending champions), Olympic Force (Bremerton), Oly Town Artesians (Olympia), Snohomish Skyhawks and Tacoma Stars Reserves.
“Our meeting was relatively short and to the point,” says WISL Commissioner John Crouch. “We covered a lot of topics but like usual for the WISL, we focused on competition and making our league better for our fans and players.”
(Top photo: T-shirts for those attending the WISL Meeting.)
All five returning clubs were present. “I was very pleased that all teams were in attendance with top leadership. Our core leadership group functioned with management by committee, breaking up tasks and covering them thoroughly. We have Lance Calloway (Bellingham United) taking the lead on competition, discipline and minimum standards. Josh Vega, representing the Washington State Adult Soccer state office and our roster management/registration process, continues to bring more technology and ease of use in this area (which can be one of the harder parts in managing a team.) John Snyder, our league Referee Assignor and leader brought two of his top officials to focus on how we make the officiating the best it can be.”
The meeting took place in Tacoma’s shrine to baseball, the Rainiers’ Cheney Stadium. It also featured other Tacoma ‘touches.’ “We were fortunate to have a beautiful boardroom to meet in at Cheney Stadium, overlooking a great baseball park. We served Tacoma foods—MSM Deli and House of Donuts. I wanted to share my town the best I could with our league.”
Growing the WISL
The WISL lost Sporting Everett this season. So far no one has been approved to replace them. “We are in talks with Gig Harbor and have a few prospects for next year,” Crouch says. We currently have 5 teams and we’d like to find a few more in the future to alleviate budget needs and also build into key regions in the Vancouver/Portland region as well as in Eastern Washington. We are told by Yakima United that we can expect them to enter the league next year.” The WISL has also received an application from a group in Centralia. Their progress has been stunted by the lack of getting fitted with boards for an indoor pitch.
Making Ends Meet
Some time was spent at the meeting talking about budgets for both the league and for its member clubs. The WISL spends almost its entire revenue stream from club fees on officiating and marketing (website and social media coverage.) The league encouraged clubs to host friendlies to increase their season revenues.
“We are actively pursuing league partners,” Crouch says. “We will be creating a dedicated WISL referee jersey that could be branded with the logos of sponsors as well as branding in our (social media) channels. We would use this money to cover expenses for 3rd officials at all games, for referee evaluation, for travel and to alleviate budget deficits.”
Player honors and All Star goals
The WISL will bring back Player of the Week honors for both offense and defense this season. “There still remains the desire to create all-star game opportunities for the top players and the WISL would like to see these guys maybe get an exhibition game versus the Tacoma Stars, so we will run that up the flagpole,” Crouch says.
2017-18 Season kicks off Veteran’s Weekend
The upcoming season is planned to begin the second weekend in November. The league’s clubs will take the opportunity to honor Veterans as the season begins. The season will end February 3rd and then will be followed by semifinal playoffs on February 10 and the Championship Final on February 17. Watch for a schedule to be announced in mid-October.
Last year league champions Bellingham United traveled to the PASL National Tournament. The WISL will be in discussions with the PASL about having a team go again in 2018.
Rules Changes and Enhancements
Officiating is an ongoing process for the WISL. The indoor rulebook is detailed and at times cumbersome. The meeting spent plenty of time trying to address some lingering issues. The following was decided:
- The WISL will have more 3rd officials this season for more accuracy
- The WISL has changed clock stoppage rules to stop the clock during game stoppages during the last 3 minutes of the first and second half.
- The WISL clarified clock stoppages for cards, goal celebrations, etc. to make a more accurate playing time.
- The WISL is encouraging teams to create better communication with referees. Only players and coaches on the bench during the game will be allowed to communicate with referees on game days regarding calls or the game itself.
- The WISL will be looking to offer more evaluation and help officials with MASL opportunities as they progress their skill set.
The WISL let all teams know the league is actively looking for qualified referees. John Snyder explained to the teams how tough it really is to ref. a WISL game after doing many high level outdoor matches and the top-level indoor. Snyder related that it’s the hardest soccer game in the world to ref. “It’s like throwing a piece of meat in the middle of a field of wolves, the pace is extremely fast and it’s condensed into a small space where players have their pride motivating them and something to prove,” Crouch quotes Snyder as saying.
Crouch also adds: “We reviewed processes for discipline and how our discipline committee works. We implemented a $100 fine for any team that slanders league or referee decisions and put the onus on them to also control players from slandering as we all agree this is a detriment to our success.”
Launching for a New Season
The tone of the WISL meeting was positive and progressive. Even though the league is back to the same number of clubs it had when it launched back in 2014, there are reasons for optimism as well as a re-energized focus on doing things the right way. “We are all very excited about how the meeting went and the future this season,” Crouch says. “We are definitely looking forward to growing our reach with this league in the Pacific Northwest and believe we have built a structure that could go nationwide if we could find the time and energy to roll it out. We all agreed, we want this to be the marquee league at our level for the nation and we’re all committed to making it happen.”