BELLINGHAM, WA— It’s the end of an era in Bellingham United Football Club history as Lance Calloway has let the Hammers know that he will not be returning as the club’s head coach this season. Calloway has been the first and only gaffer for BUFC since they were founded back in 2011 and played their first season in the Pacific Coast League in 2012. The club was the first side announced in the new Evergreen Premier League in late summer 2013.
The right time for a tough choice
Calloway thought long and hard about his choice. “This has not been an easy decision for me as I absolutely love BUFC and working together with all the great players over these past six years,” he says. “I am currently exploring a career change and at this time I am unsure as to where this will lead me, so I want to make sure that the squad will have continuity without me possibly having to leave during the season. Another factor that is nearly as important that I also have to acknowledge is that I also want to watch my son, Hunter, as he is looking to be a future Hammer and plans to start playing competitive soccer starting this spring/summer.”
It’s been an amazing journey for Calloway and his Hammers. From start-up club to one of the top-run sides in the state of Washington. Along the way he has so many memories.
“I have had an amazing experience with BUFC starting back in 2011 when Jeff McIntyre and Erin O’Brien had offered me the opportunity to be the first head coach of the squad,” Lance remembers. “I was really excited for the opportunity to work with a senior squad and to give a lot of guys in our area an opportunity to play locally in a high level organized program. The first tryouts and selecting the squad in 2012 was great as we had over 80 guys out wanting to be a part of BUFC. It was also in May of 2012 and the incredible atmosphere we had for the first BUFC home match as we hosted Langley United with over 1,500 fans at Civic Stadium on a great sunny day. It was even arranged to have a Black Hawk helicopter to do a low fly over just prior to kick off that day. Amazing day!”
Calloway remembers the moments. He also can never forget the people. “While the games were awesome, I feel the greatest aspect I have gained being a part of BUFC is from getting to know and to work with all the great players we had committed to BUFC. I have to say that BUFC always had high caliber guys come out for them. All of the players made the commitment and did the work to make BUFC a success in our community, both on and off the pitch. The young men our coaching staff had to work with are great representatives of soccer and BUFC and many young players in our area look up to them as players, a much deserved and earned respect. As a squad, BUFC has been a continual league contender with 5 winning seasons as we’ve finished second in the table 3 times (last year missing out by 1 point), third and fourth place each once and only one losing season with an 8th place. Combined for six seasons the squad was 45-28-8 for league play in the PCSL and EPLWA.”
“But the lasting memory that will epitomize being a part of BUFC will be standing on the touchline at Civic Stadium on often beautiful Sunday afternoons with BUFC playing in front of the Hammer Fans, the best soccer fans outside of the Sounders! The atmosphere created at BUFC home matches is special!”
About those people, to name just a few: “There are so many people I feel I need to thank during the past 6 years with BUFC. The most important thanks for the great support over the past six years is to my wife, Heather, and son Hunter, as they always were supportive of me as I was away from them as I worked with BUFC. I also have to thank again Jeff McIntyre and Erin O’Brien for trusting me in being the inaugural coach. Robert Riese and Jim Massoni who really set the standard for the squad’s game day atmosphere. I also thank Marc Ronney, Brad Swanson, Brian Weeda, Mark Lackey, Justin Diener, Scott Caldwell, Arpad Benyi, Nate Roberson, and Jason Jorgenson for working with me as assistant coaches or tryout evaluators at the start of each season. The last two years working with Marc as the squad’s GM was a great experience. Last and not least are all the great Hammers fans who are always out to support the squad at our matches, particularly Hooligan Ron and Alexander Staples, who organized great supporter events!”
Still in the game
What is next for Calloway? Is he done with soccer? of course not. “I will still be remain quite active in the adult soccer scene,” he points out quickly. “While not on the field I will be contributing on the administrative side. I have been involved as the VP of Competition for Washington State Adult Soccer Association since 2014 assisting in helping grow the adult game across Washington. Next week I have the honor of being one of the representatives for WSASA at the USSF AGM in Orlando to vote to elect the next President of the Federation. It is an interesting time for soccer in our country. I am really looking forward to the AGM and getting a broader perspective of soccer in the US. I will also remain as the VP of Competition for the EPLWA and the WISL. I look forward to working with both leagues club GM’s and coaches in continuing to provide quality leagues and playing opportunities for the elite men in Washington. It will be interesting to see how both of these leagues evolve going forward as both the EPLWA and WISL created a greater interest for higher level play.”