I hope this letter finds you well as we get into the thick of the holiday season. It’s been an exciting offseason for the Kitsap Pumas, as we can once again call ourselves, even though every year, it seems like these periods get longer and longer. Nonetheless, we’ve been busy getting ready and recharging for what we hope will be another successful season in 2018—which is our 10th season in existence.
Our first year in the National Premier Soccer League was a success on a number of fronts. We never like or expect it to end with a loss, but we can be happy with our transition to the new league while remaining hungry for further success in the coming years. What it did provide was a solid foundation for us moving forward in the NPSL, now as an amateur club, though we still maintain the same professional environment as we had before the change.
Since July, we’ve had a few notable occurrences around the club. First of all, I’m really excited and proud to be the head coach of this club for the first time in 2018. I was there at the very first tryout and spent the inaugural 2009 season as a training player, as I was still in college. After playing for the club, I joined the coaching staff in 2016, and I think my strong connection to this club since its inception only serves to deepen my desire for us to be successful, this upcoming season and beyond.
We’ve been working hard on the recruitment front, looking to strengthen both the playing squad and backroom staff. I’m excited to announce everything at the appropriate time, but what I can share is that we are trying to build on what we did in 2017 by keeping some key pieces around while adding new players to the equation that will make us a better and stronger team in 2018. We already have players committed to the 2018 roster, and recruitment really picks up steam after the first of the year every year.
Last week, I attended the PSC Combine in Orange County, California, which was stocked with talent from the West Coast and beyond. We identified several players who would be a good fit for the 2018 roster, and we’re in the process of deciding which pieces will best complete the jigsaw that is our roster compilation every year. I would like to thank Tom Taylor, Simon Deeley, and the rest of the staff for putting on such a high-level, professional event with coaches from the U.S. and abroad. (Our former goalkeeper Matt Grosey was one of the players at the event, and I had to get a picture with him on the last day when he turned up wearing a Pumas training top!)
After the holidays, our tryouts will kick off with the open tryout in January, so I hope our aspiring players don’t indulge too much over the next few weeks! Before then, we will have our technical staff finalized. In February and March, our invitational tryouts will help us put the final pieces of the puzzle together, and then we kick off preseason on April 30 at Gordon Field.
I hope you will join me at Gordon Field once again this upcoming year. I look forward to seeing everybody in the Bremerton and Kitsap County communities at tryouts, training, and games, and I would like to invite everybody to get involved in any way they see fit. My door is always open to our fans, and I’m proud to call Kitsap my home—something I would have never fathomed before coming to those very first tryouts in January 2009 and being welcomed and astounded by the warmth of this community.
On behalf of the club, I would like to wish everybody a happy and healthy holiday season. I can’t wait to see everybody again in 2018.
Liviu Bird, Kitsap Pumas head coach
P.S.: Allez Pumas!