Over the past several years, the Mercer Island Islanders High School boys and girls soccer programs have dominated their opponents in KingCo action.
This isn’t an accident.
The Islanders programs benefit greatly from a community that truly loves the game of soccer at all levels. The majority of the players on the high school programs have played together since they were in elementary school. Tim Bauman, who has been president of the Eastside FC premier soccer club for the past five years, has thoroughly enjoyed watching the soccer community develop on Mercer Island. Bauman’s son Hunter played for the Islanders boys varsity team from 2015 through 2018. Bauman said Mercer Island FC and the Eastside FC soccer programs have been a staple of the soccer culture on Mercer Island.
“If you look back at the history of soccer here, it goes back 50 plus years with Mercer Island FC and their youth programs. Mercer Island FC offers recreational and select soccer. For kids who want more, they go play (Eastside FC) premier, but the crowning point of what they do is play high school soccer,” Bauman said. “For those kids who have come through these programs, there is a true sense of soccer community and it all starts out when they are young. I remember when a lot of these kids (his son Hunter and their friends) were 5 years old playing soccer. A lot of them went on to play some very successful premier soccer and very successful high school soccer.”
Mercer Island boys soccer head coach Colin Rigby concurred with Bauman’s assessment.
“It is incredibly unique that we have such a funneled system with different organizations working together for a common goal. It has taken a really great turn for the positive over the last few years with the high school programs acting as the top of the pyramid. MIFC, Eastside FC is funneling players with a common curriculum, common understanding and common goals. Having similar communication and playing styles helps a lot,” Rigby said.
Seattle Sounders star player Jordan Morris, who missed the 2018 season with a torn ACL injury, is a product of Mercer Island soccer programs.
“If you look at Jordan’s career, he started off playing for Mercer Island FC, he played for Eastside FC, played for the Sounders Academy, went on to play very successfully at college (Stanford), was on the national team and now is very successful with the Sounders,” Bauman said. “That one player typifies what type of soccer community there is on Mercer Island.”
In November of 2017, the Mercer Island Islanders varsity girls soccer team won a state title for the first time in school history.
“It was one of the most gratifying things you could had ever imagined,” Bauman said of the community’s reaction to the championship. “Some of them played select (Mercer Island FC) and some of them played premier (Eastside FC). They put together a great nucleus and they played consistently well together throughout the year. They got on a roll and were able to win a state title. That probably typifies the soccer community on Mercer Island as well as anything.”
The proverbial pipeline between Mercer Island FC and Eastside FC to the Islanders high school soccer programs is something Bauman cherishes.
“What they will remember most is their high school soccer careers. There are very few that go on to play in college and beyond but they will always remember high school soccer. They all started out when they were 5 years old. That to me is what this soccer community is all about,” he said.
Mercer Island FC will conduct its inaugural preseason recreational kickoff for its youth teams on Sept. 9 at the South Mercer Playfields on Mercer Island.
“It is a chance for the community to come together and is mostly based around the recreational teams. Members of teams will collect their uniforms and meet their teammates. It is also a chance for the teams to educate families and community members on the common goals and set the stage and the tone for what MI (Mercer Island) soccer is all about,” Rigby said.