SNOHOMISH COUNTY, WA— The Snohomish County FC Steelheads are an elite adult amateur men’s soccer club that will begin play in the Western Washington Premier League (WWPL) in 2019. For a club that has its roots in SnoCo, it’s not a question of if but rather how the Steelheads will remember and honor the residents of Oso and the 2014 landslide that claimed 43 lives.
(Top photo: A fresh Steelhead Drive sign was erected in 2015 near the Oso landslide, which looms in the background. In this photo, visitors hold a broken wooden Steelhead Drive street sign.)
Half an hour away
“Our first-ever open tryouts were held just 19 miles south of Oso,” says Steelheads General Manager David Falk. “We have people within the club family that know and lost friends and family in the disaster.” When SnoCo FC held a public voting to decide their nickname back in early 2017 the final choices were “Steelheads” and “Cedars.” The names were meant to reflect the nature and beauty of Snohomish County, its robust fishing culture and beautiful forested areas.
History tells us that of course “Steelheads” won the vote (56-44%.) At the time it seemed a solid choice. In retrospect the choice has connected the club with the Oso community in a way it never anticipated. You see, the neighborhood that vanished under a giant wave of mud was called “Steelhead Haven.” The New York times reported at the time, “Steelhead Drive is gone.” No name could have itself honored the Oso lives more than “Steelheads” does. It happened indirectly, but the club is determined to honor those lives through club traditions going forward.
The offseason is the time to ponder what’s next. An informal poll in the club’s private Facebook group for players, coaches and founders suggested retiring the jersey #43 would be appropriate. So that will happen early in the 2019 season.
The club also wants the Oso connection to be more than a retired number, so Mark Patrick Lavis, who designed the Steelheads crest, has designed an “Oso 43” mark which will appear on the back beneath the collar on the club’s next uniforms. See it below.
Steelheads Community Liaison Involved
Steelheads Community Liaison Ruth Nicholson knows and has spoken to folks near the Oso landslide. She says, “The Steelheads have been reaching out to people in Oso who were involved and affected by the deadliest landslide in US history, including family and friends of friends. Each has indicated that the honoring of those lost in the landslide is an unexpected and thoughtful remembrance.”
What meaningful actions / traditions can the Steelheads establish to honor the community of Oso, those who lost their lives, and those who responded to the tragedy? The club would like to hear your ideas. Send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are numerous memorial pages online and also concentrated efforts here: http://slidememorial.com/. The gathering spot at Steelhead Drive has become a place of pilgrimage for those who want to see up close the power of nature and to remember those lost.