Three Evergreen Premier League clubs are now competing during the winter months in the Western Indoor Soccer League (WISL). It’s a chance to see new players, make new fans, and keep the club name out there for more of the year. For one of the clubs it is also where it all began.
The Olympic Force began life as an indoor club back in 2007. They played in a summer league run by the Premier Arena Soccer League. In 2014 the Force were revived with a new crest but in the same venue they had played in nearly a decade earlier, the Olympic Sports Center in Bremerton. The 2014-15 Force won the PASL Northwest Division and made it to nationals in Dallas. After that strong debut, owners Bill and Rick Wright decided to join the Evergreen Premier League and play outdoors with the Force in 2015. The timing was right: WestSound FC was not coming back for a second EPLWA season, at least under that name, as the youth side was undergoing reorganization.
So, the indoor Force paved the way for the outdoor Force who finished strong and ended their first EPLWA season last year in 4th place. Now the Force are in the WISL, and they drew the biggest crowd of the early season the other night (346) in a big opening win. The Force have strong indoor roots and are hoping the fans they get during the winter will start coming out in the summer, too.
Bellingham United is a founding member of the EPLWA. They also helped found the WISL last year. Indoor soccer goes back a bit in Bellingham as well. The Whatcom Soccer Academy (WSA) Rapids played nearly a decade in the PASL before the Hammers took over operations and branded them with the outdoor club’s crest. The BUFC supporter groups are active indoors just like they are during the summer.
Bellingham has been good at creating versatile players that excel both indoors and out. Hammers indoor head coach Brendan Quilici is one such player. Former Hammer Kellan Brown was a scoring dynamo for the WSA Rapids and also a scoring talent for the outdoor squad.
Vancouver Victory FC have jumped into the indoor game this season. They joined the WISL earlier in the year and are now preparing to host their first-ever home indoor match. V2FC and Bellingham United are linked both indoors and out. The first-ever Vancouver EPLWA match was at Bellingham back in 2014 ( a 2-0 Hammers win.) The first-ever Vancouver WISL match was played on November 21 in Bellingham ( a 9-5 Hammers win.)
The Victory are carrying on the local indoor tradition began a couple of years ago by a club called the Vancouver Tropics who played in the PASL. The PASL no longer has a division in the Northwest. The WISL was founded by former PASL owners who were looking for a different approach to running an indoor league.
The Evergreen Premier League and the Western Indoor Soccer League not only share three clubs, they also share scores of players, bunches of fans, and plenty of personnel. John Crouch, owner of South Sound FC, is the Commissioner of the WISL and is also connected to the league via the Tacoma Stars Reserves. Josh Vega, general manager of Yakima United FC, is also the new GM of the WISL. Lance Calloway, head coach of Bellingham United, is the WISL VP of Competition. The Washington State Adult Soccer Association (WSASA) provides player cards for both leagues.