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A defiant, bold goodbye

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It’s only mostly goodbye. See, mostly goodbye is still slightly hello.

Dave Clark and Jeremiah Oshan Deep In Thought
Dave Clark and Jeremiah Oshan deep in thought prior to the 2011 Sounder at Heart Q&A with Adrian Hanauer and Arlo White at Temple Billiards.

Over the many years of running Sounder at Heart I’ve known this moment could come. I have applied for several jobs that I knew would require leaving the site. At times I turned down work that would have required me to leave but didn’t grant me the same creative freedom that Sounder at Heart not only allows, but recognizes is part of who I am as a fan.

Today is the moment when I have to say goodbye to Sounder at Heart, a community that I have built in partnership with so many.

Today is the day that I say hello to working full time in sports for the first time since August of 2001. I am joining Tacoma Defiance and Reign FC as their soccer content creator. I’m going to tell the stories of these two teams, of Puget Sound, of Pierce County and Tacoma. With each team essentially rebooting this year I’m in near the beginning, ideally growing with them as I grew with Sounder at Heart.

Over the past year or so I’ve been honored to call games for S2/Defiance. It has given me a bit more knowledge about soccer and a lot more knowledge about Tacoma. It has also meant that I wrote less about the USL Championship side. Compartmentalizing was key to me behaving ethically. Now I will be able to tell more of those stories, not just in written form, but through other media as well.

My dream, from the first day I picked up a couple of d6, has been to tell stories. My methods have been print, digital, gaming, radio, podcasting, social media and video. I’m going to use all of those tools, defiantly and boldly.

Those are the same tools I used at Sounder at Heart. Never willing to separate my passions, I shared everything about me. And people came, they read and they stayed. Dozens of them joined the staff and helped me learn more about soccer and in life. More than a half-dozen launched full-time careers in sports via Sounder at Heart. Others joined my D&D table as well.

Two of the people who joined SaH need to be called out more than any others. Jeremiah Oshan talked his way into joining the site when I thought I could do it all. I gave him a chance and he took it further than anyone could ever dream. As I was the Founder of Sounder at Heart, he was the Accelerator. Without my friend Jeremiah, SaH doesn’t grow as it did; without him SB Nation soccer doesn’t grow as it did. He’s staying here, running the show. No longer partners, we will remain friends, knowing that this community is in excellent hands.

Susie Rantz made certain we covered the Reign and served as Deputy Editor for several years. Susie helped make certain that my GenX white dudeness was open and welcoming to all. She also allowed me to enjoy the Reign as a fan, because I knew that she, Jacob C, Steve V, sidereal and others would enjoy the women as media. Susie continually pushed me to be better and she does that when we roll for initiative, as well.

Last year was our 10th anniversary, so I’ve written a lot of messages about the power of this community in the past. Today I want to remind you of a few things. Through efforts this community has made, about $80,000 has been raised for charities stretching from Haiti to Japan and centered right here in Puget Sound. Through this community, when my mother-in-law passed I knew that I had a family of blood and a family of passion, and both would support me. When I lost jobs this community found me make-work, opportunities and hired me.

Today I am not leaving Sounder at Heart, because I will always be a Sounder at Heart. I am a Sounder in sport, a Sounder in life. It’s who we all are — an identity that goes beyond soccer and one we share with each other on match day, in comments and on social media. That won’t change. We’ve got a succession plan in place, and new talent is joining us SaH. Others will write more frequently. Sounder at Heart will never go away. You will hear us in your sleep, from the deep and via any medium we can find.

But today I am also leaving Sounder at Heart, because someone else (many someones) believes that what I have done I can do again, for them and for another community. Raised with a foot in the 253 and a foot in the 425 while born in the 206, I’ve watched Tacoma and the South Sound grow and change. Serving at Camp Murray and competing in debate tournaments in the halls of UPS and PLU showed me other layers to the Pierce County experience.

Walking the concourse of Cheney Stadium before matches I shook hands, sometimes embarrassed (often frightened) that I was the one with this chance to broadcast. I met so many faces happy to see a team proudly wear TAC on their shoulder, and faces happy to know that the greatest women in the soccer world will call Tacoma home.

From The Red Hot to Doyle’s Public House, from Seven Seas to Engine House #9, from Point Defiance to the south border of JBLM, from Gig Harbor to Tahoma/Rainier, I will roam. I will find the stories of soccer, the stories of a region and share them. You’ve opened your hearts to me and all I must do is open paper, computer, microphone and share them with others. It’s all I know how to do.

Defiantly Tacoma, boldly RFC253.

Dave Clark, Founder and former Managing Editor of Sounder at Heart

You can follow me on Twitter, where I will still talk about Sounders/Defiance/Reign, about Renton & Tacoma, about how beer & wine & food brings us together, and about the world’s most popular role-playing game.