Gig Harbor native Danny Waltman has the Tacoma Stars off to a 9-5 start in the team’s inaugural season.
Waltman, 34, has been a steady presence as the team’s goalie, helping the Stars become instantly competitive in the team’s return to the Pacific Northwest.
Waltman said the year has had its up and downs, but he happy with the progress the team has made.
“Some days, we look like we’ve been playing together for years and other days we definitely look like that new team,” Waltman said. “With every game, we’ve improved. With every game, I feel like our guys are getting more experience. We see the potential with all of our young players. We’ve got to understand that a lot of our guys are new to this game. Our guys are just starting to see the game a lot better. Young players are becoming seasoned veterans.”
With every game, we’ve improved. With every game, I feel like our guys are getting more experience. We see the potential with all of our young players.
The Stars, who play their games in Kent’s ShoWare Center, are the latest addition to the Major Arena Soccer League. Compared to standard outdoor soccer, indoor soccer resembles something closer to hockey. The sport is played with six players on each team in a small arena field. The walls are fair game to play the ball off. Players sub freely and penalties can set up power plays, like in hockey.
“(Fans) are going to get an action-packed game full of great soccer and exciting end-to-end action,” Waltman said.
The Stars are averaging more than 2,000 fans per game so far this season.
“The fans have been great,” Waltman said. “We’ve got an awesome group that comes out and plays the drums. We see all the old (Stars) jerseys. It’s partly about the soccer and it’s about the nostalgia of years past. We find ourselves swapping stories with fans from back in the day. We all recognize the history of playing for the Stars.”
It’s partly about the soccer and it’s about the nostalgia of years past. We find ourselves swapping stories with fans from back in the day. We all recognize the history of playing for the Stars.
While it takes some teams time to gel together, the Stars have been competitive from the beginning of the season.
“I’m not really surprised because of the guys (head coach and general manager) Darren (Swatzky) brought in,” Waltman said. “The organization, the front office staff is top notch. They’re exceptional soccer players and incredible guys, as well. I’m definitely not surprised. If anything, I’m frustrated we’re not doing better than we are. We can just all see the potential of this group. It’s one of those things, experience only comes from playing. You can train and train and train, but you just get so much more out of games. It’s hard to match the game intensity and different situations. You can only really gain experience with games.”
Waltman expects the Stars to be one of the top teams in the entire league soon.
“It’s just a question of when,” Waltman said. “Hopefully, it’s before the end of this year.”
Currently, the Stars are projected to reach the playoffs. For Waltman, returning home has been a dream come true.
“It’s the coolest thing that anyone could do in their career — playing in front of their hometown and play for a team they grew up watching,” he said. “I have a ton of friends in the stands now. It’s different than playing out in the Midwest. I’m just so happy to see the Stars back. I definitely feel like it’s the beginning of something big.”
It’s the coolest thing that anyone could do in their career — playing in front of their hometown and play for a team they grew up watching.
Waltman expects to play into his 40s, and plans on staying in Tacoma until he retires.
“This is going to be the place where I end my career,” Waltman said. “I feel like I have plenty of good years left.”
Tacoma knocked off the Cedar Rapids Rampage on Friday night, 7-5. The Stars host the Turlock Express at 7:35 p.m. Friday (Jan. 29) at ShoWare Center.