As I loaded up the car and made my way to Seattle for the inaugural game of the first season of Major League Rugby, my sense of pride was palpable. I have always loved Seattle, a place I one-day hope to call home, and I have always thrown my support behind any sports team in the Pacific Northwest.
As I arrived at Starfire Stadium, home to the early days of the Seattle Sounders FC, there was an overwhelming sense among fans that, given the right amount of time and support, Seattle’s Seawolves had the potential to reach an overwhelming fan base. “This team has been a long time coming,” a man said to me on the bleachers. “There’s potential for MLR to reach NFL levels around the country.” While I originally guffawed at that idea, a look around at the crowd almost had me convinced. There wasn’t an empty seat in the house. The merch line was so long you couldn’t see the end of it. The stadium was small, but with the number of people there, it didn’t feel it. Seawolves fans were something I hadn’t had the chance to experience before. They were rabid and hungry for anything new in their community, on the edge of their seats for the entire game. Their energy was capped off by an astounding win over the San Diego Legion. Maybe they were on to something.
The Seawolves dominance over opponents continued throughout the season, their biggest hurdle being the Glendale Raptors, whom they lost their only two games to during the regular season. Determined to prove once and for all they were top of the pack, the Seawolves arrived at the championship finals against none other than the Glendale Raptors. Halftime came with Seattle edging Glendale by one point, but the second half saw Seattle go for broke and win 23-19 at full-time.
The Seawolves did the unthinkable and put Seattle back on top of the sports map where they belong. After this win, an NHL team on track to arrive in 2020 has not only me excited, but the community eager to embrace any new franchise that makes their way to the great city of Seattle. Hell, maybe even this win will help bring the beloved Sonics back to their rightful place as well.