The giants of Europe and South America have been around seemingly forever. Man United turned 136 years old this year, Real Madrid is 106 and Argentina’s River Plate is 113.
The tendency of these ancient institutions is to celebrate their centennials and major anniversaries with some all-time selections. Take England’s Derby County, for instance. A few years back the Rams marked 125 years by honoring Alan Hinton and 10 other greats.
That’s great for our Alan, of course. He got a trip home to hear the applause. One of the other chaps, however, couldn’t make it; he’d passed on four years before Alan was born.
It seems a shame to wait and extol the virtues of people. Instead, how about paying tribute sooner rather than later?
Collegiate soccer in Washington has come a long, long way in the last 50 years. Just ask a pair of the founding fathers.
When the state’s first varsity programs were established back in the Sixties, all of what we see today was a pipe dream. And if you thought a player’s love for the game could only be illustrated by what they do between the white lines, then you’ve never heard the story of Ron Jepson and Joe Zavaglia.
If ever there was a Dawgfather of Husky soccer, it’s Jepson. While still an engineering grad student, he was tapped to be the first UW coach in 1962.
“We were very limited in the schools we could play: UVic (Victoria) and UBC were stalwarts and had been playing soccer for quite a while,” recalls Jepson, who grew up near Manchester before coming to Seattle with his family as a teen. It might seem remarkable today, but also played for the Huskies, along with a smorgasbord of other international students. The only American was the goalkeeper, a former army brat.
In the moments before kickoff, as I peak over my outstretched scarf and survey the throbbing mass at the CLink, I sometimes close my eyes for a moment and give thanks. I’m thankful to be there with family or friends and forty-thousand like-minded disciples. And I’m thankful for all those who made this scene possible.
To be honest, there are probably hundreds of people deserving of a shout out. Make that thousands. Because what makes Sounders FC world class is the sheer size and fervor of their support. In time the play will climb to that elite level; your voice and your passion is already legend.
Ah, but you are not the first throng to throw yourselves behind this great game.