Move over, basketball. Semiprofessional soccer has arrived in Thurston County.
Semipro basketball has been in the Olympia area since 2008, with a second team joining later this fall.
Now, the Tumwater Pioneers have joined the Professional Arena Soccer League-Premier – a six-on-six men’s semipro league – and will have its home games Saturday nights at the Tumwater Indoor Sports complex near the Olympia Regional Airport.
Although a schedule has not been released, tryouts will take place from 3-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Tumwater Indoor Sports at 7845 Center St. in Tumwater. The tryout fee is $25, and players as young as 16 years old are welcome.
The team is co-owned by Mike Rancipher, who purchased the sports complex from Marian Bowers, owner of the Tacoma Stars, and her son, Jeff, in May. Plans about bringing a PASL-Premier team to Tumwater have been in the works for the past year, Rancipher said.
The head coach is Matt Stalnik, who played at The Evergreen State College through 2009 and is currently goalkeeper’s coach at South Puget Sound Community College.
His assistant coach is Kevin Creeley.
Stalnik also played goalkeeper for the Wenatchee Fire, which joins Tumwater in the newly formed nine-team Northwest Division.
Other teams in the division are the Arlington Aviators, Marysville Ruckus, Central Oregon Steelheaders (Bend), Snohomish Skyhawks, South Sound Shock (Tacoma), Kitsap Pumas (Bremerton) and WSA Rapids (Bellingham).
Stalnik said the Pioneers plan to attract the top players from around Thurston County, but a big draw will be giving back to the community.
“We want them (the players) to go out and do different events,” Stalnik said. “It’s not about being able to play soccer, it’s about our community and the kids in the soccer community.
Stalnik stressed the family atmosphere and high-scoring games that indoor soccer – and the Pioneers – will bring.
Admission to the games will be $5 for adults and $3 for children. There will be halftime entertainment and player meet-and-greet sessions after games.
“We want to keep costs low for a good three hours of entertainment,” Stalnik said.www.theolympian.com/southsoundsports