The Washington State Women's Soccer Association (WSWSA) was formed in Seattle in 1974 by a group of local women who perceived a need for an organization where women could get together for "fun and exercise". Riding the wave of soccer resurgence sweeping the USA at the time and spurred by the success of the Seattle Sounders, the WSWSA started with nine charter teams. Mike Ryan, then coach of the University of Washington Husky men's soccer team, assisted in the formation and served as the initial President of WSWSA. Local players gathered information on organization and function as well as bylaws from various youth groups then melded it all together to form what is currently the largest women's soccer organization in the United States.
One of the first fights the women had to win was the right to playing fields. Fields were already utilized to capacity by other sports and soccer groups. Told that they had no "historical usage whatsoever", the women took the odd field assignments grudgingly given to them and formed a Spring League. Today, WSWSA's spring season has expanded to fourteen games, and remains our season of emphasis. Over the course of time, WSWSA has managed to establish "historical use" of fields, and has expanded its field resources to the five counties of King, Pierce, Kitsap, Thurston, and Snohomish. As well, WSWSA schedules soccer games year-round, which include our Spring, Summer, Fall and Frostbite seasons.
An additional battle our WSWSA founders had to fight during its early years was for serious recognition from not only local but also nationwide soccer organizations. At the time of WSWSA's inception, popular belief was that soccer was a sport not to be played by "ladies", not in the U.S. and certainly not worldwide. Most men encountered in positions of soccer authority were quite happy to keep to this status quo, and were very reluctant to give up any form of control of the game to the women who required it. However, our women were not to be denied and through sheer perseverance, were able to accommodate growth from 9 teams in 1974 to 36 in 1975, and to 72 in 1976, and has continued to grow since.
Initially as is today, this growth pattern was matched all over the U.S., and other FIFA countries were seeing an interest in women’s soccer as well. It was gradually accepted by the soccer authorities that women’s soccer was going places and indeed, early incarnations of the U.S. Women’s National Teams won several Munequita tournaments in Italy, capped by winning the first ever Women’s World Cup in China, 1991, as well as winning the first gold medal for women’s soccer, in the 1996 Olympics held in Atlanta, GA. The U.S. Women’s National Team has gone on to win multiple Olympic gold medals, several CONCACAF Gold Cup wins, and now three World Cup victories.
WSWSA has always been at the forefront of competitive and recreational amateur soccer locally as well as nationwide. Mike Ryan, our first President, was the first U.S. Women’s National Team coach. Additionally, he took two of his WSWSA teams (Lowenbrau and Blue Angels) to national titles in the early ‘80’s. Cozars, another WSWSA team, were league, state and regional champions in the mid ‘80’s, and several of its players found berths on the U.S. Women’s National Team. Amy Allmann, Goalie for the 1991 Gold Medal U.S. Women’s National Team, currently coaches at the University of Washington. Lori Henry and Shannon Higgins are other WSWSA players-made-good from that first World Champion U.S. Women’s Team. Michelle Akers, one of the premier women’s players in the world, also has a WSWSA past. Our women continue to pursue excellence in the sport of soccer not only on the field but also by sitting on local committees for the environment and for field development.
The WSWSA is proud of its rich history, and members continue to step forth as volunteers to provide opportunity for women to participate in the sport of soccer locally and with national groups such as Women’s World Cup Committee and Women’s Development Committee. There is still work to be done to keep the Women’s game at its top level.