10 Things To Do in Tukwila in the Rain

AHHHH! WHAT IS THAT?! 

Oh right, rain. 

After what felt like an eternity with that giant mass of fire in the sky, the rain has once again returned to its rightful realm: the Pacific Northwest. And what makes this place so special is how unbothered everyone is by a little water. Simply put, it’s all a matter of perspective. If you fight the rain, you only fight yourself. Accept the rain and you free yourself to enjoy all the amazing things this region has to offer. 

Buuuuuuut, if you really just don’t want to deal with it all, then we have a few recommendations on where to spend a nice rainy PNW day right here in Tukwila. So go ahead, check out our Top 10 Rainy Day Activities in Tukwila!

 

Escape in a Game Room

Does the rain have you wanting to escape to a new reality? Maybe one where you’re not stuck inside seeing daylight rainy skies move into dark rainy skies at 4pm? Then stop by Tukwila’s premier gaming destinations—Dimension XR and Legacy Gaming—and get transported to a new dimension filled with adventure where anything and everything is possible.

 

Get a Thrill at iFly

Feeling couped up inside? We have the perfect place for you: iFly. The indoor skydiving craze has taken over the country, and now you can try it for yourself. Like Superman in training, don the fancy jumpsuit and helmet and then shoot off into the stratosphere* with guidance from one of the skydiving professionals. 

*more like 20 feet, but you can use your imagination.

 

Fill Your Belly at Spice Bridge

Rain + gray = give me cozy comfort food right now. Duck on into one of Tukwila’s most vibrant displays of world cuisines: Spice Bridge. This global food hall is home to immigrants and refugees who bring with them insane culinary talents. With a rotating selection of food businesses, there’s always a new exciting dish to try. It’s the perfect place to cozy up with a hot meal.

 


Hit the Lanes at Bowlero

Bowling is an absolute classic rainy-day activity. So, it should come as no surprise that Tukwila has one of the best bowling spots around, Bowlero. What more do you need to know? It’s bowling. You get it. Ball, lane, pins. Done. Now go do it and have a killer time inside not getting wet.

 

Race at SyKart

There’s a common joke in this area that people don’t know how to drive in the rain even though it’s raining all the time. What that says to me is that more people need to hit the go-kart track for some high-intensity practice. Sykart is the place for all your go-kart needs. Situated right here in Tukwila, it’ll provide the much-needed boost on a gloomy rainy day.

 

Jump Around at Defy

If you hate jumping in puddles, might we recommend jumping into giant pits filled with foam instead. That’s just the start of the fun at Defy, a trampoline park in Tukwila. Foam pits, trampolines, rock walls, basketball, this list goes on. This one-of-a-kind action park is filled with challenges that are fun for the whole family. So, what are you waiting for? Don’t feel the FOAMO. Visit Defy today!

 

Watch a Movie at AMC Southcenter

When it looks like Waterworld outside, it’s best to stay inside and watch a movie… like Waterworld. Research studies show that the best place to watch new movies is in a movie theater, and I definitely didn’t just make that up. Regardless, Tukwila is home to AMC Southcenter, featuring Dolby Cinema and IMAX theaters. Escape the rain and immerse yourself in a story far far away.

 

Stay Active at Mayweather Boxing

Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you can’t still stay active. Train like the champion you are at Mayweather Boxing and Fitness. The studio offers four different styles of classes throughout the week formulated with the perfect combination of boxing, strength, and cardo conditioning. Get drenched in sweat, not rain.

 

Visit a Meadery

Breweries are everywhere in the Seattle area. But only a few special places have meaderies. And situated right here in Tukwila is one of the best around, Oppegaard Meadery. Warm your belly and your spirits in this Viking-clad tasting room.

 

Go on a Hike

Okay, you got us. This activity won’t protect you from the rain. In fact, it puts you directly in its path. BUT, hear us out. Taking a walk or run along the Green River Trail or at the Duwamish Hill Preserve in the rain is a really unique activity that many won’t experience. So, if you work up the courage, grab that rain jacket, lace up those boots, and just lean into it.

 

As you can see, Tukwila is filled with all kinds of activities that make a rainy day actually something you will look forward to. So next time the clouds roll in and the rain starts falling, just make your way over to Tukwila to help brighten up your day.

Until then, head on over to our Activities and Events pages to stay up to date on all the exciting things going on in our city.

 

Starfire Welcomes More Champions

The list of professional teams that play and train in Tukwila keeps on growing! Today, the OL Reign announced a multi-year agreement with Starfire Sports. The very fields which have hosted champions of every caliber and represent the fiery spirit of our city will now serve as the OL Reign’s official training site beginning February 2023.

“We are very excited to partner with OL Reign and have the team call Starfire home!” said Starfire Sports President and CEO Ben Oliver. “Partnering with OL Reign is an amazing opportunity for our community, and especially our kids, to witness these world-class athletes and further the soccer experience here and in the greater Seattle area we serve.”

The OL Reign is one of the founding members of the National Women’s Soccer League, which began in 2012. Since then, the team has been busy filling their trophy shelf. In just nine seasons, the OL Reign has made five postseason appearances and taken home the NWSL Shield twice. 

Once they begin their residence at Starfire, the OL Reign will have exclusive access to top-quality fields, training equipment, and locker room space. The partnership will also open up additional opportunities to engage with the youth. Starfire is committed to providing extra field space for OL Reign Academy, a program that will provide more accessible playing opportunities for kids.

“This move is a monumental step for us, and we are excited to call Starfire home and to create a partnership with them to support the community,” said OL Reign CEO Vincent Berthillot. “Along with our move this season to Lumen Field, a priority for us has been to secure a top-level training facility near our new home venue that would support our club, its world-class players, and overall operations as we continue to grow.”

We’re on the cusp of an exciting new era for Starfire Sports and the city of Tukwila. Please help us in welcoming the OL Reign to this one-of-a-kind sports community!

 

HangarFest at The Museum of Flight

On a cool Saturday evening, we made our way to The Museum of Flight for HangarFest. While not my first time at the museum, I was excited to realize that the “hangar” in HangarFest meant that I got to visit an area I’ve never been before: the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery and Aviation Pavilion! We made sure to get there early, so we would have time to check out the displays and interactive exhibits before the main event.

Around 7:00, we made our way out to the hangar for the start of the festivities. The Aviation Pavillion is a more recent addition to the Museum of Flight, having opened in June of 2016, and highlights the drastic development aircraft and commercial airlines underwent from 1930 to today. The three-acre lot features over 15 airplanes, several of which visitors could walk through, from nose to tail.

Peppered throughout the exhibit among all the aircraft were over 25 different breweries, wineries, and distilleries. We talked with many local vendors, including the women-run San Juan Seltzer and a firefighter-run brewery from Lacey – Top Rung Brewing. Many vendors were local, from Lakewood (Valhalla Mead) to Seattle (Republic of Cider) to Anacortes (Anacortes Brewery) to Centralia (Talking Cedar); but some traveled much further, like Lone River Ranch Water from Texas, or JuneShine kombucha and spirits from California. Everyone we spoke with was friendly and excited to share more about their offerings. 

Provided throughout were outdoor games, like cornhole, giant Connect 4, foosball, and giant Jenga; as well as a craft station and photo booth. Outside the hangar, there were a half dozen food trucks, with such tantalizing options that we couldn’t choose just one. We ended up trying a Lumpia plate from the Big Boys Kainan Filipino food truck, based out of Kent, and a chicken cordon-bleu savory meat pie from 314 Pie, which you can find in a variety of locations up and down the I-5 corridor. When I asked how business had been for the event, he simply grinned and gestured at all the empty pie trays on his table.

Back in the hangar, Prom Date Mixtape was blasting a very 80s cover of  “Sunglasses at Night” as we made our way inside a hulking 747. Inside, there was a peek-a-boo floor down to the inner workings below.

Next, we boarded the newest aircraft in the collection, the 787 Dreamliner. The ultra-cush interior even had that new-plane smell. It seemed appropriate to walk through this one last, as it represented the culmination of all the innovations that had come before it to create the ultimate comfort air travel experience. 

We rounded out the night stopping at Letterpress Distilling. The distributor was thrilled for us to make him our last stop before last call. Sipping on a smooth glass of Amaro Amorino Riserva, we took in the last of a night that was nothing short of delightful. It was shocking to think of how little people know about HangarFest. As we look forward to next year’s event, I’m having difficulty deciding whether I want to keep it a secret or invite everyone I know to this party in the “sky.”   

 

Tukwila Village Farmers Market Makes Space for Everyone

On a warm Wednesday afternoon, I made my way down to the Tukwila Village Farmers Market with tote in hand and grand expectations of a bustling, crowded event. As I walked around the north side of the Tukwila Library toward the Sullivan Center, I was greeted with a much simpler scene that challenged my preconceptions of what makes a market.

Most markets I visit tend to be a zoo of people and booths; Often I find myself sucked into a maze of stalls and people with very little freedom to decide my own course. It’s harder to learn more about the vendors themselves, and dive deeper into what makes the market unique. In Tukwila, the flow is noticeably different; excess and abundance are traded for space—the defining characteristic of this beautifully simple market that asks you to slow down and spend a little time, not just a little money. 

Out on the concrete plaza nestled between 144th and 41st were 6-8 stalls curving around the steps of the Sullivan Center. I was a little taken aback at first by how sparse the space was, but as I made my way down the steps and into the heart of the market, I felt at ease with its openness; it was simple and welcoming; the distinctions between vendor and visitor appeared blurred, resulting in a setting that felt more social than transactional. Flashy logos and branding were uncommon, replaced almost entirely by the personalities of the vendors themselves to do the selling. 

Without much of a plan, I began my stroll on the opposite end of the market. The first stall I visited was a vegetable stand hosted by farmers who had just finished lining their table with the latest harvest. I picked out a fresh bushel of kale and used the moment of my transaction to strike up a conversation with one of the vendors, simply asking what they thought of the market and what makes it unique. They were quick to comment on the accessibility and cooperation between businesses, mentioning that they work in tandem with the Food Innovation Network and IRC to help local farmers—many of whom are immigrants or refugees—get up to speed with supplying and manning their own stalls in the market. Apparently, reserving a space is completely free, requiring only proof of a retail license. Most farmers markets demand steep rental fees, leaving little space for low income candidates to get their businesses started. In Tukwila, however, it seemed that competition took a back seat to cooperation.

I continued down the row of stalls with ease, admiring the lack of pressure I felt to make my time quick at each stop. Friendly faces welcomed me at every table, eager to have me come in and see what they were up to. Along the way I was asked for my opinion on budget allocation ideas for the city of Tukwila, introduced to a new rideshare system that shuttles people across town for free, and even invited to Tukwila’s next See You in the Park event—reminded multiple times that there would be fresh donuts

After chatting about donuts, I made my way down the line to the next stall, attracted by a beautiful display of colorful garments spilling over the vendor’s table and hanging from the roof of the tent. A woman dressed in an equally-stunning combination of designs made her way over and welcomed me to her stand. Her name was Helen and all of the colorful pieces on display were her creations—the results of years of dedicated crocheting, a passion which she discovered at just six years old. “I started and never stopped,” she remarked proudly while showing me around her shop. 

Scarves, pillows, blankets, hats, tops and more filled the stand, all brought into being by her talented hand. I admired the delicate intricacy of a pair of earrings on display in the corner; colorful woven crescents curving around an open circular space, reminding me much of the simple layout of the market in which I stood. “Imagine wrapping yourself up on the beach in one of these!” Helen broke in. I looked up to see her smiling from within the warm embrace of a crochet throw blanket, modeling how to best wear the colorful cozy web of fabric. Her enthusiasm for each piece was incredibly charming and indicative of the love and care she put into her work, which was made even more impressive once I discovered that crocheting wasn’t her only talent.

In addition to creating and selling garments and accessories in the market and online, Helen is also a dedicated farmer. “The market helped open up new avenues of business for me,” she explained. “I actually started with a produce stand here, and doing that showed me that I could also open a stand for my crafts business.” The low barrier to entry was key to getting her start at the farmers market. Arriving in Washington from Kenya just a few years ago, Helen was pleased to quickly find an opportunity to display her talents and get her products on the market. She puts much of the money she earns at the Tukwila market towards eventually bringing the rest of her family over to the states. In the meantime, she has been hard at work perfecting her many talents and even setting her sights on opening up a dedicated storefront somewhere in the city. While talking about her success at the market she couldn’t help but laugh when remembering just how hesitant she initially was to get started. “I want to encourage other farmers to take on the challenge of opening their stalls here, it’s so much easier than you think!” 

I left Helen’s stall and headed back to my car with a beautiful crochet scarf and a better understanding of what makes the Tukwila market such a special place. In addition to the lovely variety of local vendors providing fresh produce, crafts, and civic engagement opportunities, I was also acutely reminded of the importance of making space—not just for ourselves, but also for others, especially those who have the cards stacked against them. It’s far more rewarding to make some room than to endlessly search for it. I had visited the Tukwila Village Farmers Market and discovered a micro community that felt very much reflective of the city as a whole—a diverse collection of people and talents that only grows stronger as more space is shared.

Redfin Recommendations in Tukwila

We’re in the thick of summer and enjoying this incredible sunshine right now, but let’s be real here, the gray isn’t far away. But you can get ahead of the gloom and look forward to the rainy days by planning weekend adventures with a little help from our friends over at Redfin. They put together the perfect list of things to do around the Seattle area once the rainy weather starts approaching.

They’ve included two highlights from the City of Tukwila and are spot on with these recommendations. Check them out! 

The Museum of Flight 

When the rain comes, The Museum of Flight has got you covered. Located in Tukwila, play, stroll, contemplate and even learn a few things while being sheltered from the rain. Forget the weather in a windowless gallery, or engage your seasons of emotions surrounded by a glass building that touches the sky.

Seattle Chocolate Factory tour

Everyone knows Seattle for its coffee, but craft chocolate is the true gem of the Emerald City. To try some of the best chocolate in the area, Experience Tukwila recommends “Indulging your sweet tooth with a tour of the Seattle Chocolate Factory. Founded in 1991, this Seattle staple creates bold new chocolatey creations that are a must-try for everyone passing through.” 

So, next time you’re looking for something to do when the weather has you trapped inside, just head on over to Tukwila!

Celebrating 50 Years of Title IX

This month marked the 50th anniversary of the Education Amendment Act. The law’s landmark Title IX was instrumental in advancing gender equity in schools and removing barriers for girls and women in sports. To celebrate, we’re spotlighting a handful of the incredible athletes who have passed through the Tukwila community.

Kat Roche, Major League Rugby Referee
Kat is a former college rugby player and self-proclaimed fitness junkie, most notable for breaking new ground in Major League Rugby by becoming the first female lead referee. Her first MLR match as lead referee was right here in Tukwila last year when the Seawolves defeated the Houston SaberCats. Her career with MLR continues to have an impact on the world of sports, inspiring other women to pursue similar positions.

 

 

Carly MacKinnon, Seawolves Marketing and Communications Director
Carly is the Marketing and Communications Director for the Seawolves as well as a 15s player in the Seattle Rugby Club, where she was part of the team’s 2015 and 2016 USA Rugby Women’s Cup National Championship team. She is also a certified USA Rugby Coach and has spent years coaching high school girls in the sport.

 

 

Lauren Barber, Seawolves Director of Youth and Community Development
Lauren is the director of Youth and Community Development for the Seawolves, where she helps cultivate the next generation of rugby players in our community. A four-time national college rugby champion, Lauren has achieved a variety of leadership roles in the world of rugby, including assistant coach for the professional women’s Premier Rugby Sevens Headliners and vice chair of the youth state-based governing body, Rugby Washington.

 

Sierra Shugarts, WWU Alumni and 2016 National Player of the Year
Sierra was team captain at WWU, leading her team to the school’s first national title in 2016 and earning her Player of the Year honors. From there she traveled overseas, playing soccer in both Sweden and the Czech Republic, before returning to the PNW for new opportunities. But her long and decorated career first began right here in Tukwila at Starfire Sports. Now, Sierra has her sights set on giving back to the game which gave so much to her by putting on the jersey once again, only this time as “coach.”

The Seawolves Championship Hunt Begins With A Stunner

Guest blogger, David Drown details the experience attending the Seawolves’ Western Conference Semifinal—his first ever rugby match.

My first time going to a Seattle Seawolves match was a lot like my first time going to a Seattle Sounders match: both were playoff matches and both were unforgettable. But what set the Seawolves apart was its intimacy. The ability for a stadium a fraction of the size of most pro arenas to produce such a vibrant atmosphere left me questioning the value we place on our big box entertainment venues. 

Don’t get me wrong, watching a professional sport alongside 30,000+ screaming fans in an architectural superstructure is an incomparable experience. But as stadiums grow in size and amenities, the actual sport itself often becomes lost amidst the fanfare. All kinds of distractions seep in, forcing your attention toward everything but the game. What I experienced this past Sunday in Tukwila felt like the antithesis to that. Watching the Seawolves in the Western Conference Semifinal at Starfire Stadium felt like a return to the purity of sport, a practice in athletic mindfulness that reoriented the fan-athlete relationship and reminded me of why we even show up in the first place.

The threat of rain loomed overhead as my partner and I made our way to the front gate of Starfire, a common backdrop for many Seattle sporting events. Teenagers tossed a rugby ball back and forth in the parking lot, weaving their way in and out of the sea of couples, families, and groups of friends funneling toward the stadium. I studied their movements in detail, hoping to get a crash course in the general flow of rugby before watching my first ever match. 

Before I knew it, we were inside the stadium. But something about that distinction didn’t feel right. Unlike most sports venues, there wasn’t a clear boundary between inside and out. The grounds felt open and fluid, almost indistinguishable from the surrounding neighborhood. This feeling extended to the Starfire staff themselves, with ticket sellers, concessions operators, and merch vendors all operating like a tight community—like they knew each other well beyond their occupations. After exploring the merch tents, we grabbed ourselves a couple of drinks and a giant pretzel for pennies on the dollar and headed for our seats.

The thundering roar of fireworks announced the introduction of the Seawolves. Fans stood and cheered wildly, many still pinching themselves, happy to be back in the postseason. John, a season ticket holder from West Seattle and Seawolves fan since day one, explained that “last season was a tough one… [but] it’s good to see all the fans out tonight.” What sets Seawolves games apart for John is the camaraderie, even “the way [opposing] fans are welcomed” here at Starfire. There isn’t the fan aggression you might encounter at some other professional sporting events. “There’s something special here,” John says.

The match began with a flurry of action. Their opponent, the San Diego Legion, took an early lead, making a try just a few minutes into the first half. Even as a new fan my heart sunk, worried that this could spell the beginning of a long and painful night. But the Seawolves answered back and then kept answering back. Soon they were ahead with what felt like a comfortable lead heading into halftime. I hesitated to get too excited though. Superstitious tendencies from my days religiously following my favorite hockey team bubbled to the surface. Just 40 minutes into my time at Starfire and I felt a connection with the sea of green and blue filling the stands, and I hesitated to say anything that might jinx the game.

At the start of the second half, we made our way down behind the endzone to get closer to the action. The Seawolves maintained their momentum, charging back and forth down the pitch with ease. A young fan next to me piped up, “Come on dad!”, as the horde of giant players tumbled toward us. It marked a surreal moment when the lives of the professional athletes transcended the pitch. Not something usually experienced in giant sports stadiums, I suddenly looked around and realized that many of the people near me had direct connections with the players; some even family; some even “dad.”

What just 50 minutes before looked like a mess of players frantically running about knocking into one another quickly crystallized into an organized sway of forces. The flow of the game has a way of revealing itself even if you have no knowledge of strategy. The groups of players move about the pitch like flocks of starlings, their murmurations crafting complex shapes and patterns that ask the viewer to let go of rigid expectation. “Rugby is a continuous play sport,” describes Brent, a Seawolves fan and wheelchair rugby player, “those types of sports [just] take longer to gain traction.” But like most Seawolves fans, Brent is optimistic that the Seattle area is becoming more open to this often underappreciated game.

It became clear well into the second half that this was a night for celebration. As we hit the 80 minute mark the game ended just as it began, with a thunderous display of fireworks. The final score, Seawolves 43 – Legion 19. Standing along the perimeter of the pitch transfixed by the lights and sounds, my partner and I were caught off guard when the gate suddenly opened and fans rushed out onto the grass to congratulate the players. This sort of interaction was so foreign to us. Fans are fans and athletes are athletes, we thought. But Starfire seemed unconcerned with that distinction which pervades so much of pro sports.

After we made our way back through the parking lot, I worked my way through memories from the night. I tried parsing out the moments, segmenting the groups of fans, sectioning off chunks of time in an attempt to more easily understand the night. But this felt counter to what I had just experienced. It quickly became evident to me that what separated watching a Seawolves match from other pro sporting events was its very lack of separateness at all levels. From the openness of the stadium to the interaction between players and fans, there was no clear beginning or end to the Seawolves experience. The Seawolves are a team within a family, within a community; there is no division; there are no distractions. This is sport at its essence.

With this huge first round win, the Seawolves head to Houston to take on the SaberCats in the Western Conference Final on Saturday, June 18th at 4pm. Head over to Billy Baroo’s in Tukwila for the official watch party where the Seawolves community will come out in full force—including Rucky, the beloved team mascot—to cheer on the hometown heroes.

The Sounders Return to Starfire

Guest bloggers, Robyn Stevens & Becca Rust, detail their experience attending a Seattle Sounders match at Starfire Sports. But not just any match, round 32 of the U.S. Open Cup—the oldest ongoing soccer competition in the U.S.

There’s something quintessentially Pacific Northwest about driving to a sporting event with the sunroof open, only to be met with a full-on downpour during the match, followed by clear, brisk night skies for overtime. Naturally, no one, from the fans to the players, were about to be deterred by a little rain. 

Neither of us knew much about soccer, and even less about the venue, Starfire Sports. But as soon as we arrived, fans and employees alike were all enthusiastic to share their passion with us, informing us along the way about the traditions, rules, and history that accompany the experience of a Sounders game at Starfire. There were food trucks and concessions, a live DJ, a beer garden looking out over the pitch, performances by Sound Wave (the official Sounders band), and even glimpses of some local wildlife—most notably a bunny who ran onto the pitch, disappointed to be fooled by the high-quality synthetic turf. If only he realized that five of the 12 total outdoor pitches are in fact grass, and he just happened to hop onto the wrong one.

Before the match began, we explored around the campus, learning about the various fields and all the different events they’re used for: youth teams, Sounders practice pitches, and adult indoor soccer leagues. There’s a cafe and restaurant in the athletic center, with good pizza and a variety of beers on tap. We learn that the players come out through a tunnel, where you stand close enough that you could high-five them as they make their way onto the pitch, and that here, getting an autograph from your favorite player after the game is a breeze. 

Waiting in line to pose with the recently-won CONCACAF Cup, we spoke with an old-school Sounders fan from Spanaway, Joseph Lieu, who loved Starfire games because “it’s much better and way easier to meet players than at Lumen Field. There’s more room to stand and meet and talk to the players one-on-one after the game. That’s how I met the entire team 8 years ago.” It is because of growing up going to Starfire games that Joseph is now going through school to become a sports photographer. 

A group of exuberant fans boasted to us about who had traveled furthest for the event, citing Port Orchard, Silverdale, and even one as far as Burlington, who had driven over an hour and a half to watch the Sounders. Chris Matala, however, didn’t have to travel nearly as far. Chris works in Tukwila, and is a frequent visitor for Starfire. “It’s fun to see the Sounders play here, to have pros on the field because most of the time it’s kids on the field. But those kids, they have more passion than the pros, because they are trying to get to the pro level.” We asked if they had favorite places to go out after the game, and they said that with all the great options, they couldn’t pick just one. Ryan Bennett piped up; “Tukwila has a lot to offer!”

When the match finally began, the crowd grew silent, and stood ceremoniously, raising their hands wide. The players walked proudly onto the pitch in two lines, and the ritual began. Clapping in unison, the crowd rhythmically grew louder and faster. And then the players were off, electrified by the intensity of the crowd. 

The Emerald City Supporters (ECS) fan club showed up in force. A quarter of the stands made sure the crowd never missed a beat with their chants and cheers. They had huge flags waving and bolstering the players tirelessly during the game. The crowd was rowdy and rambunctious like you want at a Sounders game, but remained family-friendly. 

Most of these players aren’t the Sounders’ typical starting lineup. Because of the nature of this tournament, it’s a great opportunity for coaches to put in newer, or B-string, players to get more time on the pitch. Still, plenty of recognizable names were out there, including local Kelyn Rowe. Kelyn grew up playing at Starfire as a kid, and described it as “cool, nostalgic to be back” on his (truly) home turf. It’s been about five years since the Sounders last played a match at Starfire, and it’s obvious the players have missed it. Forward Fredy Montero said, “It’s always fun to play with a crowd that is close, and we can hear every single one of them screaming and having fun.” The attendance at Starfire that night was 3,773, and while that may not seem like much to a Lumen Field regular, that’s nearly a packed house for the 4,000-seat Starfire Stadium.

The Sounders opponent for the night, the San Jose Earthquakes, managed to score twice before the Sounders came back with an answer. The rain started to drizzle, and we took it as a sign. The Sounders returned again to tie it up with just a few minutes left in regulation. During the action, we had the good fortune to meet Mark Bickham, one of the founders of Starfire Sports. Mark warned us that in this tournament, there are no ties. So when at the end of the 90 minutes (plus stoppage time) the score was still 2-2, we were in for an extra two 15-minute halves. By then the rain was coming down like only Western Washington rain could, but despite the overtime and the stoppage, fans stayed glued to the game. Slide tackles became involuntary, and splashes of rain gave players little halos when they headed the ball. Where the crowd noise used to rise as a player moved toward the San Jose goal line, now the crowd was excited just to see them cross midfield. The roar of the crowd never let up, outmatched only by the periodic rumble from a passing “Sounder” train, seemingly cheering on the team in its own right. 

Flash-forward to the end of overtime and neither team managed to score a goal. This meant  time for penalty kicks—each team gets five penalty kicks, and whoever has more at the end takes the game. The rain had let up by this point, but the 2+ hours of play had taken their toll on the players. But their determination seemed to be in equal measure, as they ended the 10-total penalty kicks still locked in a tie.  Next stop, “sudden death.” Each team kicks, and if one gets a goal and the other misses, it’s all over. Both teams go through player after player, making every goal in perfect synchronicity. Each player can only kick once, and they do. After 10 players from each team have taken their kicks, the Sounders and San Jose Quakes have each only missed one, two and a half hours after they took the field, at 9-9. The last players to attempt the kick are the goalies; who previously had been trading off guarding the net, now turn to face one another. The Sounders keeper, Stefan Cleveland, shot first. Unfortunately, unable to make the switch from saving to scoring, his kick was low and the San Jose goalkeeper Matt Bersano dived on the ball and made the save. Then they switched, Bersano squaring off against Cleveland. The crowd inhaled together. 

Bersano scored, ending the brutal shoot-out. Had Cleveland saved it, we would have continued penalty kicks, starting back at the top of the lineup. It was a disappointing end, though one could not have asked for a more exciting or intense game. Nevertheless, the crowd cheered for the Sounders’ tough battle, confident that all players had left everything they had on the pitch that night. 

Afterwards, we joined in on the post-game press conference. Sounders Coach Brian Schmetzer was proud of how well his team played throughout the match, despite the final score. Asked how he felt being back at Starfire, he instantly replied: “Loved it. Loved it. Ya know, when we scored the first goal you could just sense the crowd, there was a little bit of rain […] I loved it. I thought it was great.” Also, he was asked how many times he’d experienced a shootout that long in his career, to which he said:
“Never. Never.”

The Seawolves Make History at Starfire

Guest blogger Claire Schmitt details her experience attending a Seawolves Major League Rugby match. 

Sunday, May 8th, matchday. After a quick 25-minute drive south on I-5 from North Seattle and a whopping $6 for parking, we’re at the front gate of Starfire Sports in Tukwila. There’s a sense of familiarity and intimacy about the stadium. People of all ethnicities and ages walk around repping their Seawolves green and blue. It’s the epitome of a family-friendly spot; kids with soccer balls keep themselves entertained on the surrounding fields by taking shots into goals while the adults gather nearby to chat and grab refreshments before the match starts. It smells like well-manicured grass and summer days at the park. I’m in love already.

I leave my friends temporarily at the Chick’N Fix food truck, head past the concession stand and swag booth, get my bag checked, ticket scanned, hand stamped, and enter the stadium. The team is running warm-up drills on the pitch. As I stand at the perimeter field fence, the players are so close I could casually chat with them about what they ate for breakfast if I wanted to. Head Coach Allen Clarke walks up to some folks also standing near me and shakes their hands. I’ve never been to a major league sports event like this before—there’s almost no separation between the players and their fans. The whole atmosphere is refreshing. It feels personal, as if it’s the norm for the team to interact with the community at this level.

People keep steadily coming in and make their way to their seats. I head upstairs to grab myself a beer ($7 for stadium beer? I’ll take it!). When I get up there I see two women dressed head to toe in Seawolves gear. They look legit and one girl is eating a soft pretzel so I decide to approach. Their names are Mikaela Mattes and Kate Crabtree, it turns out they host the PNW Showdown Podcast. Mikaela and Kate cover a wide variety of Seattle sports but tell me rugby is special. 

“There’s a high level of respect in this game,” Kate says. “It’s relatively new in the U.S., but people here are really willing to explain all the rules of the game and what’s going on so it feels very welcoming and friendly,” she explains.

Mikaela chimes in,”Yeah, it’s like its own little pod here…” They exchange a look at each other as they realize the Seawolves pun she just unintendedly made. “Ooh, that’s a good one. We should use that,” Kate tells Mikaela and we all laugh. They tip me off about an exciting distinction for tonight’s game. Referee Kat Roche, the first female lead referee in MLR history, is back at Starfire. 

The match starts and my crew barely has enough time to get settled in our seats before the Seawolves make their first try (rugby’s version of a football touchdown or a soccer goal). The place goes wild. Green fireworks explode into the air. The Seawolves are leading the match within the first minute, not a bad way to start. 

The Dallas Jackals attempt to make it a real game when they score a try of their own at minute 8. For a split second you start to think, can we pull off this win? The Seawolves respond at minute 12, as if to answer my question directly, yes. #TogetherWeHunt. And together, they make it happen. They score another try and AJ Alatimu makes the conversion.

These guys are huge and when their bodies collide the sound it creates upon impact is loud enough to make every single person in the stands wince slightly. I’m half in horror at the fact none of them are wearing pads and half think it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen. The Seawolves dominate the pitch (aka the field). It seems like every time they get possession of the ball they systematically manage to drive their way towards the try zone.

Minute 19:40 – Seawolves score a try and conversion. Fireworks go off. Fans erupt.
Minute 31:52 – Seawolves score a try. Fireworks go off. Fans erupt.
Minute 34:16 – Seawolves score a try and conversion. Fireworks go off. Fans erupt.

It’s the end of the first half and it isn’t looking good for the other team. Rucky the Seawolf, the team’s beloved Orca mascot, is making their way around waving and saying hello to all the families celebrating Mother’s Day. There’s a Mother and son duo sitting in front of me looking enthralled. I lean over and ask the kid where he got the Dippin’ Dots he’s eating. He’s missing a tooth when he turns around and smiles at me. He shyly tells me, “the concession stand at the entrance.” I ask him how old he is, “eleven.” It’s their first Seawolves game, the mom tells me. We politely chat about the beautiful weather and I let them get back to watching the game. 

A whistle blows and the second half begins, but it’s already clear this will be a blowout. The Seawolves are relentless and won’t let up. Around the 60-minute mark, the Seawolves have scored so much that Starfire has run out of fireworks for celebration. 

Jim Stewart Allen or “Broccoli Guy”, a local legend and 2nd-grade substitute teacher turned social media influencer, has been dancing all game at the try line. I can’t resist an opportunity to meet him in person and take a selfie. Jim says the Seawolves have been extending him the personal invite for their games but he started attending during the 2021 season. “Starfire is unique because you get to be so close to the players and the game. I find that Seawolves games create an environment for more fan engagement which is really fun to be around,” he says. And I feel it too. 

When the scoreboard hits 80 minutes, the Seawolves stadium erupts in one last outburst of cheers and “Sweet Caroline” starts playing, setting the celebratory mood as folks file down the aisles towards the pitch and exit. We start to gather our belongings, but something strange is happening. No one is really leaving. The Seawolves and Jackals players are gathering together, shaking hands, taking photos, and in some cases even hugging one another. Weren’t you guys just trying to tear each other’s faces off? 

Players from both teams are approaching the fence to greet the fans and thank them for coming out to the game. Even Referee Kat Roche comes over! I shake her hand, congratulate her on the game, give player JP Smith a high-five, and take a photo with Seawolf (and 2x Tam USA Rugby Olympian!) Martin Iosefo. It’s a celebration, but not just for the winners or even one team. It’s a celebration for the sport of rugby.

The final score turns out to be an MLR record-setting outcome of 74-7, the most points and tries ever scored by a single team and the largest margin of victory at 67 points. But all records aside, to me, the fan experience is about whether or not I see myself as being a part of the Seawolves community. After this amazing night, the answer is clear. So to you, dear reader, I share the secret of the Seawolves. You’ll thank me later.

 

Visit https://seawolves.rugby to learn more about the Seattle Seawolves and find tickets to upcoming matches. 

 

Tukwila Library Unveils their Electronic Locker Program

Washingtonians love their books. Of course, it helps having perfect weather conditions year-round for curling up and escaping into a good story. But there’s also a great sense of pride for the general love for knowledge and creative expression that permeates our communities. So, when the world went into lockdown to combat the spread of the COVID-19, it’s no surprise that cutting access to in-person library spaces sent bibliophiles across the state into disarray.

But the shock was short-lived. King County Library Systems (KCLS) acted fast to reconnect people with their beloved books by leveraging OverDrive—the digital platform that gives residents access to ebooks and audiobooks without ever having to leave their homes. Libraries also began supporting curbside pickups as well as launching online virtual programs to continue serving the community. 

Curbside pickup “surprise bags” were made available by KCLS during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The latest initiative undertaken by King County Library Systems involves the rollout of electronic lockers at a variety of locations—including right here in Tukwila. “The lockers provide an easy and convenient way for patrons to pick up materials,” stated KCLS Executive Director Lisa Rosenblum. The lockers, which provide 24/7 access for all patrons, were funded by the KCLS Foundation and from a portion of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). We recently caught up with the staff over at the Tukwila branch to see how the program has been going since its debut back in February. 

Tukwila Mayor Allan Ekberg with KCLS Executive Director Lisa Rosenblum and Washington State Librarian Sara Jones at the unveiling ceremony for the Tukwila Library electronic lockers on February 11.

 

How have the electronic lockers been received by the community? ​  

The Tukwila Library lockers received a warm welcome from the community at the grand opening on February 11. Governor Jay and First Lady Trudi Inslee also recently came to the Tukwila Library to visit one of our pop-up vaccine clinics and the library lockers. 

Since the Tukwila lockers have only been open a little over two months, we don’t have adequate feedback to share from patrons at this time. However, we know that the first set of lockers we installed at the Bothell and Covington Libraries in October 2020 have been popular additions to the community. Patrons enjoy the ability to pick up library materials any time with 24/7 access.   

How do you think electronic lockers will contribute to overall readership/library attendance? ​  

The electronic lockers increase access to library materials; they offer an easy and convenient way to pick up items any time of the day. Any opportunity to provide residents’ greater access to information and library materials is an opportunity to increase readership, knowledge, and quality of life.  

Anything else you’d like folks to know about the Tukwila Library? ​  

The Tukwila Library is a beautiful space that is well used and beloved by the community. We hope to see you soon, either outside at the new lockers, inside, or online! 

Learn more about the electronic lockers and how you can use them here.