Undefeated, untied and two wins away from an NCAA Championship. That’s where Chuck Sekyra has the Seattle Pacific women’s team positioned going into the week. The Falcons (23-0-0) face New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce Thursday in a semifinal game, and the national championship game is Saturday.
A native of Kent, Sekyra (he says to ignore the ‘Y’ when pronouncing) grew-up watching the original Sounders. As a player, Sekyra was part of two SPU championship teams (1985-86). After coaching in the prep ranks, he became an assistant at both his alma mater and later Washington. In his five years as Falcon women’s head coach, the program has gone 96-9-8, won four conference championships and advanced to the 2005 NCAA title game.
Before boarding a plane bound for Pensacola and the NCAA Division II Finals in nearby Orange Beach Ala., Sekyra shared his views on his influences in the game, including the factors which prompted him to already purchase MLS Seattle season ticket deposits for his family.
At this point in the season (23-0-0), what more can you say to your team?
What I’ve said all season is that they are good enough to beat any team in the country, and I simply remind them of that. At this stage of the season it’s exciting to see teams we’ve never played before because we’re tired of playing teams that know us well.
Have you modeled tactics on any particular team or program?
I like Arsenal for their style of play and how they keep possession, but I haven’t modeled on any certain team. I know what type of coach I am, and I like to play a very tactical possession system. So I look for players who can and want to play tactically; very skilled, able to read the game and keep possession of the ball.
Off the field, what are some of your interests or hobbies?
I’m a baseball collector and I’m big into trivia, especially (laughing) American Basketball Association trivia. Actually, I‘ve always loved sports. Beginning when I was 5, I wanted to get closer to the game, so I started collecting cards of my favorite players.
And your most prized collectible items?
A Jackie Robinson, 1956 Topps card; Hank Aaron, 1959 Topps; Johnny Bench rookie card, 1969 Topps; a framed Alan Hudson jersey from 1982 Soccer Bowl; and a Glenn Burke rookie card from 1978 and the Dodgers. Burke’s the guy who invented the High-Five. And one item that really made me feel good: a pair of gloves signed by Hope Solo that says, “To a great friend and coach.”
Women’s soccer has quite a storied history locally. Who do your SPU players use as role models in the game?
My kids talk about all the great national team players. They talk about finishing like Mia Hamm, getting forward out of the back like Brandi Chastain, and they talk a lot about the newer players too, especially the big forward, Amy Wambach. They’re enthralled with her and how she can finish with her head and both feet.
You grew up with the original Sounders. Any game you remember in particular?
Watching the (1982) playoff game against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. We came from behind, 4-3 in overtime. It was on TV. Kenny Hibbitt headed the ball and Roger Davies finished it off.
Any original Sounders whom you idolized?
Where do you start? I could name every player of that team, and I could find that I wanted to be like him in some area of the game. Alan Hudson for his playmakng, Roger Davies for his finishing, Tommy Hutchison for his ability to beat players, Ray Evans for winning balls in the air, Jeff Stock for his ability to serve the ball. I could go on and on.
You played for Seattle Pacific and later FC Seattle. What role do you think that school and FC played in where we are today?
I really believe they played a huge role in keeping it alive so we could have this MLS team now. With the Sounders gone, our national championships (at SPU) brought out great crowds and kept people excited about soccer, and FC Seattle brought some great teams–national teams, foreign teams–to town.
You were there the day MLS Seattle was officially announced. What thoughts came to mind that day?
Two things: I got so excited because I thought to myself I’m getting a chance to live something again that I enjoyed as a kid. When I loved the Sounders, I got into the entire league and knew every player in the league. I’m excited to do that again, to know the MLS just like I knew the NASL. Secondly, I thought, How quickly can I get tickets? I’m so excited and I can’t wait for that first season.