The annual Blast Off Soccer Tournaments get underway Friday around Federal Way with the girls' portion of the tournament. Over 150 teams will make their way to Federal Way over the next two weekends.
The second weekend of the Federal Way Blast Off will be held on Aug. 9-11. This is the boys weekend and the 25th year of the tournament that is held by the Federal Way Football Club. The story is partly in the youth soccer, but there is an equally compelling story in the dedication shown by a family to develop, grow, and run this event. Here are a number of facts:
1. Perry and Sharon Woodford have directed this tournament for the past 15 years. Both of these individuals have worked in a wide range of leadership positions for Federal Way youth soccer for as many years.
2. The tournament planning begins at the end of one tournament and begins with assessing what works and what doesn't, and then methodically determines ways of making the next year's tournament better.
3. The Woodfords likely have raised about half a million dollars over the 15 years for FWFC. They have more than doubled the number of teams participating in this tournament from 60 in 1990 to 149 in 2013.
4. This tournament does not just affect soccer players (the money is used for scholarships and club ops), but has a multiplier effect on the local economy in hotel stays and other businesses such as restaurants and stores.
4. Keep in mind the Woodfords have done this entirely on a voluntary basis.
5. Their daughter, Deserae, has long given up soccer, but the Woodfords have continued to extensively volunteer in a wide range of capacities for youth soccer. Perry has a board position for the state. Sharon has also volunteered hundreds (possibly thousands) of hours in scheduling and logistics for the soccer club.
6. It's important to note that the Woodfords don't just "direct" activities, they "do." They have handled all central activities related to getting teams registered and scheduled. Sharon has been remarkably successful in painstakingly researching the true capabilities of teams to make sure that true competition will occur. Perry is legendary for driving his oversized pickup hauling equipment between his home, storage areas and fields.
7. Their leadership in this event and the club has strong support from a core of volunteers who have worked this event with them in past and recent years such as George Pfeiffer, Jammie Hair, Sandy Bjork and Robert Lewis.
8. This year has been an especially poignant one for the Woodfords. As they were directing the tournament last weekend, they got word that their daughter had received a number of first place awards in horseback riding. One could hear Sharon rightfully wishing she could have been there.
9. The Woodfords have contributed their time so generously to the game. I always thought Perry has used the phrase "for the good of the game" too often when giving a basis for what we do. But in watching how Sharon and Perry have given the time to the game, I believe they mean to say "for the good of the kids" because that's who benefits from these efforts.
10. Finally, these folks have given more than their share of themselves. Many of our volunteers on the boards will talk about the costs on personal lives and fortune that this work takes. Missed vacations, late dinners, anxiety from irate parents and impacts on health. The Woodfords have given everything to the game, and Federal Way should celebrate them.
Jesse Hamashima, FWFC Past President, Parent, Coach