Baden teams up with youth soccer


Sports editor

Federal Way-based Baden Sports, manufacturers of athletic balls for 25 years, has teamed up with a local soccer team participating in a nation-wide youth development program.

Baden has agreed to provide game balls for the Seattle Sounders U14 Super Y- League team, which is made up of members of the Norpoint FC 87 boys soccer team based in Northeast Tacoma.

The agreement seems to be working for both parties: the Sounders youth league team hasn’t lost a game when using Baden’s balls, while Baden gets exposure to its product.

“The balls are real nice,” said Kellan Biando, 14, who plays on the team. “They’re easy to trap. They’ve got a better feel than most balls.”

Baden, whose world headquarters have been in Federal Way the past 10 years, saw the league as a chance to support a local youth sports team.

“We thought it was a great opportunity to give back to the community in our backyard,” said Melissa Dawson, director of marketing for Baden. “It was a chance to continue to prove our high-end balls in games and it gives us credibility with the players.”

The Super Y-League was started in 1999 by the United Soccer Leagues in an attempt to identify America’s top young players.

“It’s exciting. We get to be part of a professional team and get to play teams from all over,” said team member Skylar Schulz, 14.

“Hopefully they’ll get exposure to a higher level of soccer than they would in state,” said assistant coach Karl Schulz.

The Super Y-League includes more than 170 teams in 10 regions of North America.

The champions of the Northwest Division will join other regional winners in North Carolina at the end of August to decide the Super Y national champion.

The U14 Seattle Sounders are in second place in the eight-team Northwest Region with five wins, a loss and a tie.

Coach Scott Nelson feels the Super-Y League will help boost the development of his players.

“Instead of spending the summer playing local tournaments where a team might have to play five matches in order to face one or two strong opponents, the Y-League should provide us with the opportunity to play challenging, meaningful games all summer long,” Nelson said.

In other countries, professional soccer teams train and develop young players. That focused effort pays off when national teams succeed on the world level.

“It’s about getting pro teams linked with youth in the soccer community,” said Ken Schulz, whose son, Skylar, plays on the team. “In other countries teams have youth academies. We have nothing like that here. Super Y is an attempt to do that.”

It’s the first year the Sounders have fielded a team.

“A lot of clubs took a wait-and-see approach to the SYL,” said Matt Weibe, director of the Super Y-League. “Now that they are a part of it and see its capabilities, they want to expand and enhance their individual programs.”

Many professional teams from the MLS, A-League and D3 Pro League have initiated youth development programs.

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