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.”
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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 www.WISLnews.com, www.Facebook.com/WISLnews and www.Twitter.com/WISLnews. Any questions from owners, players or fans can be sent to WISLnews@gmail.com.
“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 https://www.facebook.com/tacomastars