The Sideline

Today, the reborn Tacoma Stars organization named Darren Sawatzky as head coach for the new Western Indoor Soccer League season. Sawatzky is the head coach of the Sounders U-23 and is also a former professional indoor and outdoor soccer player.

The WISL will kick things into gear with a full slate of games this coming November. The Stars will play their home games at the Tacoma Soccer Center. Schedules and Ticket plans will be announced soon.

Here is today's full Press Release from the Tacoma Stars -

TACOMA, WA — The Tacoma Stars are pleased to announce that Federal Way, WA. native Darren Sawatzky has been hired as the Head Coach of the club ahead of its November debut in the Western Indoor Soccer League (WISL). Sawatzky will begin immediately to plan the soccer build-up of the Stars as they return to their historic home in the Tacoma Soccer Center.

John Crouch, Stars General Manager, knows that bringing Sawatzky into the Stars family is a big step for Tacoma. “Darren has played professionally both on the indoor and outdoor side and he is from our area. He was always a blue collar type of player and we love the expertise and work ethic that he will bring to the field. We know that his coaching will bring high level sessions and great preparation for all of our players. We also believe that having Darren as our head coach will make a statement to the players as to what type of opportunities can develop in playing with the Tacoma Stars.”

“The Tacoma Stars, and the great players and coaches that have been part of the franchise, are ingrained in the Northwest,” Sawatzky says. “We will look to honor that with a competitive team in the WISL. We will first look to assemble a team with local players to compete in the first year of the new league. John (Crouch, Stars GM) has a vast knowledge of this level and the local players. We look forward to helping these players grow and compete.”

“I watched the Tacoma Stars as a young player and that name still rings true with indoor soccer,” Darren reflects. “Any time you are able to coach a group of young players, it is exciting to see what you can build. I played most of the 2001 indoor season for the Kansas City Comets so I have some knowledge of the indoor game but all games evolve and I look forward to learning as we build our team.”

Many will recognize Sawatzky in his role as the head coach of the PDL Sounders U23 and his pivotal work in establishing the Seattle Sounders FC Youth Academy. Sawatzky has experience coaching at the youth, elite academy, college and professional level. The Thomas Jefferson High School (Federal Way) alumnus returned to coach his alma mater to a WIAA state championship in 2004 when he was also named Coach of the Year. He was on the coaching staffs of the USL Seattle Sounders and Washington Huskies. Darren has served as the Director of Coaching at Highline Premier FC and is currently the Technical Director at Mercer Island FC.

The University of Portland graduate had a long playing career at the professional level before rising in the coaching ranks. His playing days include being a member of the U.S. Olympic Team Pool, playing for the Major League Soccer New England Revolution, Dallas Burn, and Colorado Rapids. Sawatzky has also played for the USL Seattle Sounders, and Portland Timbers and indoors for the former MISL Kansas City Comets.

Darren holds a USSF A coaching license and also participated in the MLS/French Football Federation Academy Coaches World Class Training through a 16-month development course and is slated to earn his Elite Formation Coaching License in November. As the U23 Academy Director of the MLS Sounders he will then be part of the elite French Formation License team. This top-tier license takes into account the minute detail of each player to increase player development. The rigorous program integrates the focus on each player’s physical, tactical, psychological, and emotional development.

Majority owner of the Tacoma Stars Lane Smith has watched Sawatzky in action over recent years. “Darren has done a great job for us as Head Coach of the Sounders U23 and we are really happy that he’s stepping up to take on this new challenge. He’s an expert at developing talent and we know that our players and fans are in for a treat with Darren’s dedication to hard work and building community.”

The Western Indoor Soccer League (WISL) was announced in June of 2014. The Tacoma Stars join the Wenatchee Fire, WSA Rapids, Arlington Aviators and a new Snohomish County club as the five members who have entered the WISL so far.

The WISL (it can be pronounced “whistle”) movement gained steam after the outdoor Evergreen Premier League made its debut this spring and summer as another outlet for owners and talented players. Several of the people and clubs involved in the successful launch of that grass-roots league are also involved with the creation of the WISL.

Fans and players can join the development of the WISL and chart its progress online at, and Any questions from owners, players or fans can be sent to

“The Tacoma Stars name is one that many soccer people in Washington and even around the country have always held in high regard,” says Smith. “We are thrilled to be bringing that famous name back into competition and at the same time helping to start a league for fans, players and owners that understands and respects local indoor soccer culture and history.”

Fans can follow the Stars at

~David Falk

The Tacoma Rainiers will officially introduce “R” Yard - an all-new party deck area located beyond Cheney Stadium’s left field wall - to fans prior to the start of tonight’s 6 p.m. series opener against Colorado Springs.

The first-ever outfield viewing experience offered in the 55-year history of Cheney Stadium, “R” Yard serves as the largest structural addition to the ballpark since undergoing a $30 million renovation in 2011. The 130-foot-long, 26-foot-tall deck resides atop the home and visiting team bullpens and will feature grilled concessions items presented by Ivar’s, Inc. and select craft beers available for purchase only on the new deck.

“R” Yard is designed to accommodate both large groups and fans traveling in smaller packs, allowing each visitor to Cheney the opportunity to view a game from the newest, most unique perspective in the ballpark. Parties of 50 or more can reserve one of two all-inclusive group party decks available each game, or fans can purchase an exclusive “R” Yard ticket that secures a spot on the deck. “R” Yard will also be viewing option for all season ticket holders and fans with reserved seat single-game tickets.

The celebration of “R” Yard’s official unveiling will begin as part of the inaugural Happy Hour at Cheney that gets underway at 4 p.m. today. Fans attending the game early can take advantage of special beer and concessions prices that include $5 beer options and $3 hot dogs on the new outfield decks leading up to when gates open one hour prior to first pitch. Happy Hour at Cheney will be offered in “R” Yard prior to the start of every Rainiers home game this season.

Tonight’s game will also serve as the introduction of the “R” Rule into the Rainiers in-game protocol. As Cheney Stadium’s official landing zone, every time a Rainiers player hits a home run onto the deck at “R” Yard, prices on beer and hot dogs will immediately revert to those offered during Happy Hour. Prices will remain at Happy Hour levels through the conclusion of the game.

The Rainiers are offering a special edition ticket to introduce fans to “R” Yard during its opening homestand at Cheney Stadium. Beginning today through Tuesday, June 24, a $15 “R” Yard ticket grants participating fans priority seating inside this unique viewing area and includes fans’ first beer or soda on the deck.

If there is a time to get some payback it's in the playoffs. TCC ended the regular season dropping four out of five games and lost the West Region title to crosstown rival Pierce College.

The Titans could muster just one hit against the Raiders on Saturday at the NWAACC Championship Tournament, but was able to cash-in on eight walks and two hit batters delivered by Pierce pitching for a 4-2 victory. TCC (39-7) moves into the semifinals Sunday against Edmonds CC while the season for Pierce (28-13) comes to a close.

Starting Titans pitcher Chris Kerwood went six innings and scattered five hits while giving up two earned runs. However, it was reliever Patrick Bernard (W 6-1) who earned the win and Steven White faced one batter in the ninth to garner the save.

Pierce pitchers Cole Uvila, Matt Fish (L 2-3) and Cobi Beal surrendered one hit and struck-out 12 Titans, but the walks and hit batters were costly as TCC turned a walk, two errors and two stolen bases into two runs in the seventh inning for the decisive runs.

Catch the semifinals tomorrow on the NWAACC Live Stream here:

After losing their first-round game 4-2 against Treasure Valley CC on Thursday afternoon, the TCC Titans baseball team moved into the loser-out side of the NWAACC Championship and got back on track with a 8-5 defeat of the Clark CC Penguins (31-15) Friday at David Story Field in Longview, WA.

The NWAACC is a double-elimination eight-team round-robin tournament. If TCC can channel a bit of their groove from their 27-game winning streak during the regular season, the Titans can still bring home the NWAACC Championship Trophy.

Tacoma will play either Pierce or Edmonds on Saturday at 2:05 p.m. You can watch every game of the tournament streaming live on:

Three, possibly four games in a row will do it for TCC.

Closing-out the regular season with a coveted second-seed to the 4A West Central District tournament on the line, the Bellarmine boys soccer team fought madly to the final whistle, but was unable to break free of a 3-3 draw with the top-seeded Gig Harbor Tides and find themselves on a much more difficult road as the third or fourth seed into the tournament.

On several occasions, including twice in the waning minutes of the match, Bellarmine senior forward Drew Barker missed his chance at finalizing a hat-trick for himself and a victory for his Lions.

Shortly after the opening whistle, Gig Harbor struck first as junior forward Edwin Brown weaved between two Bellarmine defenders on the right wing, made his way toward the goal, and as goalkeeper Dylan Zurfluh committed to leaning to his left, punched the ball into the other side of the goal and the Tides had a 1-0 lead four minutes into the match.

Ten minutes later Bellarmine junior midfielder Luke Witker looped a perfect pass across the box to Barker, who paused just long enough for Gig Harbor goalkeeper Matt Stephens to charge out after the ball. Barker delivered a perfect shot to the back right of the goal and the score was tied 1-1.

Bellarmine would strike again seven minutes later as Witker launched a long throw-in deep into the box. A defender got a head on it pushing the ball away from the goal, but onto the waiting foot of Bellarmine sophomore defender Ryan Clark who deposited a shot into the back left of the net. Bellarmine led 2-1.

Thirty minutes in on a free kick Barker skipped a short pass to Clark who nudged it right back to Barker who lofted a shot over the goalkeepers head, only to find the bottom edge of the crossbar and the ball bounced back out. However, a Tides defender had gotten a hand on the ball and a penalty kick was subsequently awarded.

Barker lined up the penalty, hesitated for a moment, and delivered a strong kick just wide right of the goal. Bellarmine would go on to miss the chance badly, as Gig Harbor took advantage of the situation and went back on the offensive, breaking down the Lions defense at the 39-minute mark when Gig Harbor’s Tommy Martin found a slashing Tyler Vu open in front of the goal and crossed a solid pass to the freshman who put it into the back left of the net. The teams would enter halftime tied 2-2.

During the break, injured Bellarmine senior Eric Musica exhorted his teammates to make the most of the opportunity in front of them and to leave nothing left on the field for the next forty minutes.

His teammates responded quickly as junior forward Chris Hanson crossed a pass from the right-wing to a cutting Barker who put the Lions up 3-2 with his second goal of the match.

Bellarmine remained on the attack for the next twenty minutes but came away empty on four solid chances at the Gig Harbor goal.

At the 28-minute mark following a questionable no-call on a tackle from behind, the Tides flashed the ball forward with three quick passes and Ike Northstrom found the inside of the right post and the equalizer goal for a 3-3 tie.

Gig Harbor (10-1-1 Narrows) amplified the pressure over the next ten minutes and it looked as though they were sure to find a game winner during the run. However, the Tides’ best was three shots, fired much too strong, that all sailed high over the goal.

In the final minute, Barker made two solid runs at the Gig Harbor goal, and like his opponents, put too much foot on the ball and the shots sailed high and the final whistle blew.

Bellarmine (6-4-2 Narrows) will play a loser-out match against Federal Way (11-3-2 overall) on Thursday night in the opening round of the WCD 4A tournament at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup at 7:00 p.m.

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