Stephanie Steiner can recall her first Sounders FC match as if it was yesterday.
Six years ago, in the early stages of the club’s inaugural MLS season, Steiner had no idea what to expect when she arrived at CenturyLink Field. Once the game started, the people sitting behind her were cheering so loud and persistently that she had to turn around and see whom it was coming from.
“I turned around just to see what on earth was yelling that loudly for that long, and he saw me and said, ‘Oh wow! You’re new! We have pretzels and nuts, and some popcorn over there. You can have anything except my beer! Welcome to a Sounders match,’” Steiner wrote in a recent email. “I was hooked. It was so Seattle.”
Steiner called Sounders FC’s ticket sales team the very next morning to purchase a suite for the remainder of the season. She has been devoted to the Rave Green ever since, and as of last week, Steiner is now the president of the Sounders FC Alliance Council. She was chosen to replace outgoing president Paul Cox at the first meeting of the year last Tuesday.
It was a humbling experience for Steiner, who seems quite excited to get to work.
“I’m not even sure how to explain it,” she said. “Is there a way to say responsibility, passion, excitement and commitment? Maybe there is: Sounder ‘til I die.”
Steiner is now the leader of a group of 34 people who serve as liaisons between the Alliance and Sounders FC ownership. The Alliance is, of course, a way for fans to get involved in the club’s affairs and decision-making process. In addition to voting privileges, Alliance members get discounts at team stores, an invitation to the club’s Annual Business Meeting and electronic newspapers during the season. Alliance membership is complimentary for season ticket holders, while non-season ticket holders can join for an annual fee of $125.
Members can also nominate themselves to be part of the Alliance Council, which is elected on a biennial basis. They must receive a minimum of 25 votes from their Alliance peers to be elected.
Once part of the Council, Alliance members have the ability to run for one of five officer positions. Along with Steiner, those elected last week include Dan Roe as Vice President, Angelica Mendoza as Secretary, and Kyle Boyd and Kristina Vaughn as at-large Executive Committee Members. Roe and Mendoza are both starting their third terms on the Council, while Boyd and Vaughn are in the middle of their second terms.
“They are all rockstars, as are the other nominees,” Steiner said. “That might be one of the best attributes of this Council – we have several people who can step up and lead at any time.”
It’s essential that the Council is very organized and committed, as its members have numerous responsibilities within the Sounders organization. First and foremost, Alliance members have the ability to vote out the club’s General Manager once every four years, a procedure that is unique in American sports. The Council also advises on matters regarding match-day experience and presents various other suggestions to the ownership group.
“The way I look at is, it isn’t just the responsibility of the guys who suit up on the field to win the trophy, or the people who wear the suits in the meetings to win the trophy – It’s ours too,” Steiner said. “When you’re willing to consider how you’ll contribute to winning the trophy, then it’s not your entertainment anymore. It’s your team.”