Ready to take flight

skyhawks

  • By Rich Myhre / Herald Writer
  • Friday, February 10, 2006 

SNOHOMISH – Over the years, indoor soccer leagues in this country have come and gone.

Puget Sound area soccer fans may remember, for example, the Seattle SeaDogs of the Continental Indoor Soccer League and the Tacoma Stars of the original Major Indoor Soccer League. Both leagues later folded.

Now another new soccer league is ready to try again, and the good news for local enthusiasts is that one of the teams is right here in Snohomish County.

The Snohomish Skyhawks of the six-team Developmental Indoor Soccer League have already begun their season with two games – alas, both defeats – but tonight the team makes its home debut at the Snohomish Indoor Soccer Dome.

The squad is comprised of players mostly in their 20s, though several are in their early 30s and one is 41. Many played high school and college soccer at Snohomish County schools.

Among them are Shane Decker, 30, and Jim Kessler, 29, both 1994 graduates of Snohomish High School. Decker played two years at Edmonds Community College, and then went on to play professionally with the SeaDogs and for teams in other indoor leagues around the country before returning home to work for a construction company.

Kessler, a construction consultant, played two years at Everett Community College but has since played mostly recreational soccer.

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Playing for the Skyhawks, Decker said, “means I can be here in my hometown, so this is great.”

Players in the DISL are not professionals, but the league could be a stepping stone to a pro opportunity in the current MISL for some.

For those who have never seen the game, indoor soccer is a hybrid of traditional soccer and hockey. The indoor field is roughly the size of a hockey rink. Also like hockey, teams play six to a side and send players to a penalty box for various infractions. Penalties are generally two or five minutes, creating power-play opportunities for the opposing team.

In the DISL, games are played in four 12-minute quarters. There is no overtime for tie games, with shootouts deciding the outcome.

Unlike the often deliberate pace of outdoor soccer, indoor soccer “is go, go, go,” Decker said. “I enjoy the speed of the game and the high scoring. This is something that somebody who doesn’t play can still watch and enjoy.”

“It’s more exciting,” Kessler agreed. “More fan oriented.”

Skyhawks coach Pablo Mummey was brought up playing traditional soccer, and it was only later that he was exposed to the indoor game. It is, he said, “a lot different from the outdoor game. You don’t have the spacing in indoors that you have in outdoors. And everything has to be done quick. It’s a real fast game. You’re moving the ball fast and players are constantly on the move.”

The DISL – which includes teams in Seattle, Tacoma, Portland and Bellingham, along with Snohomish and Mount Vernon – plays its games on Saturday nights. The Skyhawks dropped their opener 8-7 against Seattle two weeks ago, then lost at Portland 13-7 last week.

“We’re in the stages of trying to get young players to know each other and to understand what is needed to be done on the field,” Mummey said. “But I’m definitely seeing a lot of things that have improved. Things that we weren’t doing before and we’re starting to do now.”

Like any new sports league, the future for the DISL depends on fan and sponsor acceptance. Teams do not have player payrolls, but still there are expenses that depend on revenues from ticket sales and corporate contributions.

“They have to have money coming in somewhere,” Kessler said. “But if the league can get funding … there are enough good players here. So it’s just a matter of getting support from the communities and the fans to keep it going.”

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