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IN THE BEGINNING

One of Washington Youth Soccer’s first coaches reflects on a quarter-century of the game’s growth in our state.

About to turn 74, David Nordfors can’t help but laugh when asked about his working career outside of soccer.

“I’m an architect. I’m retired, but I still do a few things. Architects hardly ever retire,” Nordfors says. “I just don’t have an office and employees.”

But Nordfors was more than a guy who helped bring different buildings and home add-ons to life. In the Capitol Hill area of Seattle, he was an architect of sorts for youth soccer as the very first Washington Youth Soccer coach on Capitol Hill, and one of the first in the entire state. And while he did retire from coaching in 1981, the game has continued to grow.

“You thought the potential was there. But you were also trying to be realistic knowing there was a lot of competition from other sports,” Nordfors says.

From that time in 1970 when sons Randy and Doug Nordfors were 8 and 6, respectively, and youth soccer was “all brand new” in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle, the game has grown to the point where 140,000 players are now suiting up across the state for Washington Youth Soccer teams.

What’s more, the pro game, which was something played across the Atlantic or south of the border back then, is now a significant part of the local scene, with the Seattle Sounders FC developing into a model franchise in the U.S., an key partner of Washington Youth Soccer, and a growing brand world-wide.

“The Sounders coming (originally in 1974 in the North American Soccer League) was very important,” Nordfors says. “I remember one particular game in the Kingdome where there were 40,000 people in there. To have 40,000 people that early in the soccer history here meant that there were a lot of people who, if not serious, were at least interested enough to go. I think those kinds of things really helped a lot.”

Nordfors did his part to help build the youth game in Washington when he and Bob Dixon joined forces behind the team that became the Capitol Hill Cougars. While there are now plenty of kids of all ages to fill teams throughout Washington, such a notion was no sure thing in 1970.

“Bob asked me first of all if the kids would be interested in playing, and second, would I be interested in helping coach,” Nordfors recalled. “So we did it.”

The program took off, and soon another team was formed. Nordfors stuck with the Cougars, which included younger son Doug (older son Randy went with the new Albright Tigers team) and continued for 10 years until 1981. Among his players: a young Peter Hattrup, who went on to star for Seattle Pacific and for the A-League and USL Sounders.

“The kids that I coached I have extremely fond memories of for a variety of reasons. They were really neat kids,” Nordfors said. “It was an adventure. Having never played myself, it was a learning experience.

Now, new and veteran coaches alike can take advantage of dozens of workshops, clinics and classes offered by Washington Youth Soccer and US Youth Soccer to further their development and improve their coaching skills. But when Nordfors got started, the closest thing to a class took place in a Wallingford-area tavern on Saturday mornings, where former Sounders defender Mike England would show films of English First Division games.

“We would go watch those films to see the skill level and see how the game was played,” he said.

Today, Nordfors remains a fan and a supporter of the game. He and Randy have season tickets to Sounders FC.

And, he has those fond memories of helping build the youth soccer game in the Seattle area.

“There was sort of an inkling that if enough kids grew up with the game, that sooner or later, they would continue to support it,” Nordfors said.

“There’s no question that has happened.”

 
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