Welcome to the refreshed Sounder at Heart! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [contest rules]. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!
The first time I remember thinking about the Seattle Sounders wasn’t until 1997. It wasn’t because they were playing a game. I was in Kuwait with the US Army. Much of my free time there was writing poetry. It was bad, but one of those was about my love affair with Puget Sound, a region I’d left three years prior.
It was a kind of flowing list of things I missed. I started mentioning the sports teams, even though it was really the Army that taught me to love sports. There was a line about being a Sounder. I’d love to share this poem, but it’s on a Windows CE device and probably lost forever due to tech changes.
At about the same time I’m crafting a poem that mentions the Sounders, who I’d never watched in the NASL, but still captured my imagination, I was attending two World Cup Qualifiers in Kuwait. They faced Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It was a blast. Saudi marched in a bunch of soldiers to be the most organized supporters section I’ve yet to see.
I bought FIFA Road to the World Cup, playing it on my team sergeant’s laptop. My whole team played. It was great. There was plenty of mocking that it was “just soccer.” But it was the only video game anyone had - plus we linguists liked to pretend it was only available to play in Arabic.
Those months are probably when my love of soccer was planted. I already knew soccer, having played in elementary school, but I missed World Cup ‘94. Basic Training interfered.
My first Sounders game was with my brother, at Renton Memorial Stadium. It was the A-League team’s only year there. It was cold, damp, and wonderful.
When I started at KJR-AM the following Spring, I went to several Sounders games at Seattle Memorial Stadium. The team’s GM and owner wanted to get someone to talk about it on the radio. I was just an intern/lowest producer, so I couldn’t do much, but it taught me a lot about covering sports. All the mentions I earned the team were mockery for being “the soccer guy.” Current Sounders radio broadcaster was at KJR then too. He was also “the soccer guy.” The jokes didn’t make sense.
That’s the foundation of my passion for the team.
Sounder at Heart is the castle built on that foundation. It started as rumor of the team joining MLS grew to an overwhelming certainty. A baseball blogger I once wrote for convinced me that the only way I would be happy with coverage for a niche sport and team would be running a blog.
He was right.
Because of Sounder at Heart my love for this team and sport is part of my identity. Without Sounder at Heart and the Sounders losing a few jobs would have been harder, getting new jobs would have been harder. Without the site and team, a few birthdays would be more boring.
Without the site and the team, losing my mother-in-law would have destroyed me.
This staff has helped make me a better writer, better manager and a creator who can sell his work.
I’m also a Sounders fan because I watched the 2007 USL Championship at Starfire; watched Open Cup victories at Qwest/CenturyLink Field; watched Seattle steal a Supporters’ Shield from LA; watched CCL losses and an MLS Cup win at viewing parties. We welcomed them home after numerous major wins, and I was there with you.
You are also why I’m a Sounders fan. Meeting you at games, before games, after games, at pubs around the region is why I’m a Sounders fan. Meeting you on Twitter, Facebook and in our comments section is why I’m a Sounders fan.
Seeing you at work, or in a Safeway, or in a mall - that’s why I’m the fan I am.
I cannot separate my fandom from the other people who are fans of this team, because community - you - are as much a part of my fandom as Brian Schmetzer, the team name, or going to soccer games in the Persian Gulf.
Thank you for helping me be a fan. I’m glad we do this together.
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