The South Sound Shock FC, a semi-professional soccer team in Gig Harbor, is coming off an indoor championship a season ago in the PASL Premier Northwest League.
The league, which consists of 10 teams from Washington, Oregon and Canada — six in the north and four in the south — saw the Shock beat the Kitsap Pumas for the league title last year.
The Shock are 1-1 this season. The team formed in 2011 and consists of players from around the region.
“We have players from Puyallup to Gig Harbor to Tacoma to Olympia,” club owner and head coach John Crouch said. “That’s why we named it South Sound instead of pigeon-holing us to a particular city.”
The players range from college age to late 30s — Joe Jarzynka, 36, a former Gig Harbor High product and University of Washington football player, is the oldest member of the team. On the other end of the spectrum is 21-year-old forward Derek Johnson, a Pacific Lutheran University graduate who was an all-NWC selection.
The club also plays outdoors after the winter season, although its roster is a little different, because the team generally hosts those younger than 23 and has a higher emphasis on development. A few veterans are sprinkled in.
Crouch, a co-founder, is stepping into his first full season as head coach as well. He is assisted by Erik Waterland.
The club faced a bit of uncertainty as Tacoma Screw Products, Inc., purchased its home at the Gig Harbor Athletic Club. But the Peninsula Metropolitan Parks District secured a deal with Tacoma Screw to keep the indoor soccer center operational, and Crouch said the team acted quickly to claim its spot for games and training purposes.
Crouch said about 300 people showed up for last year’s championship game against the Kitsap Pumas, and he hopes for continued community support.
This year, the Shock beat the Vancouver Tropics, 10-3, and lost to the Yamhill County Crew of Portland, Ore., 8-5.
Crouch said his primary mission is to create a culture of selflessness and community.
“We play as a community and for each other,” Johnson said. “It’s a team that plays for each other. All these guys, we’re involved in each other’s lives off the field as much as on. Soccer is the way we join to support each other.”
Johnson said the bond the team shares starts at the top.
“That’s something that John Crouch has really built and talked about a lot,” Johnson said. “We’re a community, not just a soccer team. You won’t find that in a lot of teams, that kind of personal aspect. You can not play for us for a year or two and still be connected outside of soccer. That’s something I’m proud of and enjoy.”
The culture has produced results on the field as well, especially during the indoor season, when the players have to be in-sync.
“Our team preaches no individuals,” Crouch said. “We really focus on our team play. Really, when we’re at our best is when we play unselfishly. We’re confident in our play, we focus hard on our preparation, camaraderie and playing for each other.”
Veteran goalkeeper Aaron Anderson anchors the team, and Crouch called him one of the best in the league. While the National Football League is a different sport and level of competition, Crouch said the team talks about the Seattle Seahawks often, as well as the culture head coach Pete Carroll has created.
“When you get to a high level, one of the things that separates teams with talent are those that have a good system and believe in each other,” Crouch said.
Indoor soccer is more fast-paced and confined than outdoor soccer. Johnson said that changes the way players have to approach the games.
“You have to really want the ball and be comfortable with the ball at your foot,” he said. “You have the ball more often. You have to be prepared to be faster and confident going forward.”
Defensively, Johnson compared the difference to basketball. While outdoor soccer depends on formations, teams generally run a man-to-man or zone defense for the indoor game. Knowing how to attack either option is imperative to scoring.
“It takes time for players to adjust to that and be dynamic,” Johnson said. “In outdoor, you have space and time. In indoor, you don’t have that.”
Tickets for South Sound Shock FC games are $5 for adults and $3 for children and seniors. The club also has paired with Narrows Brewing Company to serve beer for those 21 and older. Non-alcoholic beverages also are available.