Enduringly fresh, Washington State’s Evergreen Premier League (EPLWA) has a blueprint sketched as a trinity. “Our State. Our Clubs. Our Culture.” That sketch put into practice by the leaders of the league defines the vanguard of American amateur soccer right now. Their mission builds on a tried and true formula but does it with the polished gloss of the 21st Century. That trinity holds up the standards and is the core reason why the Evergreen Premier League of Washington State is frontier soccer if there ever was.
Washington State is at the center of the Pacific Northwest region of North America. It is a place of forests and greenery, mountains and even a few volcanos. Evergreen trees cascade over the land that rises up into peaks named after the great mount of Greece, Olympus. The state itself gets its name from the larger than life hero of the Revolutionary War, first President of the United States George Washington.
Soccer does not fall behind the great land and imagery of the State of Washington; it thrives in it. The Washington State Adult Soccer Association (WSASA) has 30 member leagues. The Evergreen Premier League is it is only Elite Amateur League as designated by the US Adult Soccer Association (USASA). The idea is not often noted but USASA’s Elite Amateur League program is the fourth tier in the United States league system. The EPLWA founded in 2013, states on their website, “The Evergreen Premier League is an elite adult men’s soccer league for college and post-college players to feature their skills on hometown clubs throughout the state of Washington.” It was goalWA.net’s David Falk who told eplwa.wordpress.com, “After talking for a long time about how Washington really needs a league like the EPL, it is awesome to finally be joining soccer lovers and doing something about it.” Falk and John Crouch of South Sound FC were the co-founders of the league. Their players find a home in the league’s organized clubs.
The Evergreen Premier League is home to eight clubs in one division. For the 2015 season that begins on April 26 those clubs are: Bellingham United FC, known as “The Hammers” were a founding club of the league, the South Sound FC known as “The Shock,” Wenatchee FC known as “The Capitals,” Seattle Stars FC, Vancouver Victory FC known as “V2FC,” Yakima United FC known as “The Hoppers,” and Olympic Force.
These clubs are a mixture of clubs organized just prior to the founding of the league as well as Spokane SC Shadow founded in 1996 and Olympic Force founded in 2014 as an indoor team that entered the EPLWA for the 2015 season. It is clear that the clubs are the heart this league. The uniform way in which the clubs are presented online was what drew me to write about them. Every club has high quality website and an up-to-date social media presence.
On the east coast, many of our major clubs are steeped in history and they and their opponents are proud of that aspect. In the Evergreen Premier League, the individual leaders of the league and the clubs bring their unique backgrounds in soccer to building their own tradition. They are growing their rather new league every year. The league and its clubs are self-promoting, organized and dedicated to building not just soccer but a culture around it.
They lay it out as their mission. “to cultivate ‘football club’ culture while providing opportunities for coaches, owners, supporters, players and towns to enjoy the sport and all of the community-building it can bring.” (www.eplwa.wordpress.com) EPLWA sells league themed memorabilia. Many of the clubs have organized supporters groups. The league partnered with Ruffneck Scarves, West Coast Goalkeeping Gear, Code Four Athletics, Viking Design Studio, and goalWA.net. The league website lists a number of dedicated club gathering spots as well. All of this plus the gameplay goes into what they call “football club” culture.
From the perspective of an East Penn. Raised amateur soccer guy, the EPLWA is frontier soccer, in geography as well as organization, if there ever was.