Celebrating 50 Years of Seattle U Soccer

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on Thursday, November 3, 2016 at 10:59 AM PDT

On September 30, many in Seattle were celebrating the last few days of sunshine before a wet and windy fall would set in. On Seattle University’s campus, a different celebration was taking place. Joe Zavaglia, ’71, and his teammates from Seattle University’s first soccer team returned to campus to celebrate their legacy of Seattle U soccer, now in its 50th year.

According to Joe, seeing the program celebrate 50 years is humbling and beyond emotion. “When you look at how hard it was to get the program started and how little we had at the beginning, we’ve come so far. We would practice in the rain and when we came in to the gym to shower we didn’t have any towels or soap like the other teams had.  We always felt like the underdogs. And we worked hard to prove ourselves and that we were to be respected as athletes.”

Since its inception, Seattle University’s men’s soccer team has gone on to win two national championships, more than any other athletics program on campus.

“I want to thank the alumni community and the students who would come out to games and be great fans for us,” Joe shared.

To celebrate 50 years of Seattle University soccer, soccer alumni and staff came together to plan a day of festivities,  including a brunch for the original team members, a social, a pre-game dinner with current players, a victorious game against Utah Valley and a post-event gathering. Many alumni returned to campus to cheer on the Redhawks in their anniversary game. A highlight was seeing dozens of former players of all generations recognized on the field at halftime.

The fanfare didn’t end on campus. The Seattle University’s men soccer team was recognized on the field during halftime at a recent Seattle Sounders game.  During the recognition, the current team captain leaned over to Joe and asked, “Fifty years ago did you ever think you would be celebrated on this field for starting the Seattle University soccer program?” 

While the team has come far over these past fifty years, Joe hopes they will go farther.  Joe’s first priority for the future of the team is around personal growth. “A lot of people look at national championships, but the most important thing for me and other soccer alumni is that we continue to develop our players to be well respected and honorable men after they leave SU. It’s about developing men who makes a difference in the world.”  According to Joe, the soccer team is like a family and the alumni are actively involved in helping the current players and looking after one another.

Joe’s second hope for the team is that Seattle University is recognized as the premier team in the country, followed by the desire to win more championships. Joe hopes the alumni community know how highly regarded our men and women’s soccer programs currently are. “We may not be the Gonzaga of basketball,” Joe said, “but we are the Seattle U of soccer.”

Check out more pictures from the celebration on our Facebook page and be sure to cheer on our soccer team in the WAC Tournament.