LACEY, WA— The Lacey Pocket Gophers helped establish the Western Washington Premier League a few years ago and now the founding WWPL member club is getting an infusion of local citizens to move the club forward. Lee Baker, Paul Tollefson and Brandon Sublette are taking over management of Lacey FC with Pocket Gophers founder Troy Kirby remaining as a board member. The new ownership / management group will begin immediately to plan for the 2020 season.
Paul Tollefson says he is equipped and ready to dig in with the Gophers. “As someone who was born and raised here in Lacey, played soccer here my whole life, have even raised my own children and family here, I have experience and multifaceted knowledge needed to help this program flourish here. Along with the management team who are just as dedicated and focused, we can not only grow this program but build a stronger city and community.”
Lee Baker comes at this from the pitch perspective. “I am stepping up because I have a genuine love for Lacey FC. I was a player for them in the first two seasons and want to continue to help the club on and off the field.”
“I’ve been in my local soccer community starting around 9 years old playing youth soccer in the area and playing for River Ridge High School,” Lee explains. “I then went on to play two years for South Puget Sound Community College, after that was all over I played for our local SWSA coed leagues where many unbreakable bonds have been formed. Lacey is very underrated when it comes to being a soccer area but I assure you Lacey is a soccer town.”
The new group seeks to build on what Kirby has established over the previous two seasons. “Troy is setting us up with all he has established with business partners and to keep the soccer games fun for family and friends,” Tollefson says. “He also is a member on the newly expanded board. He has met with us many times and helped to answer questions that we have about his experiences and the club in general.”
Lacey FC were the second place club in the 2018 debut season of the WWPL, taking the title race all the way to the final match before dropping a close contest at eventual champions Kirkland FC. 2019 was a different story altogether. The Gophers won only once in ten matches and were relegated to the new WWPL Second Division.
Baker and Tollefson are on board for a turn-around. “We are looking to get back to the winning tradition the club had in year one,” Lee says, “as well as providing a fun environment that friends and family can be a part of, giving our community a place to be united.” Paul agrees. “We are looking for a solid group of young men to join and help grow the Lacey Pocket Gophers program. We are aiming for improved performance with these talented players as well as a winning record.”
Tollefson acknowledges the Pocket Gopher tradition of fun and entertainment at home matches. He also has an eye on making more. “Along with some great futbol, we are excited for this to be an event for family and friends in our county. Growth and unity in the community is one of our personal goals and aims for this program. So we are working on building those strong relationships to bring the city closer as we build up our soccer community.”
The Pocket Gophers will continue to make news with other announcements in the coming months. Be sure to follow Lacey FC at Facebook.com/LaceyGophers.