While communities around the state (like Seattle, Carbonado, Tacoma and even tiny Tono) were competing in professional and semi-professional circuits, soccer in Olympia was relegated to a grade school sport. Even so, the grade school games garnered regular newspaper coverage through the 1920s.
Adult club soccer in the region had a high water mark, but receded again by the mid-1920s. The first statewide soccer league after that era (literally called the Washington State Soccer League) didn’t organize until after World War II.
Even then it took 20 years before Olympia found its footing.
The state soccer league included teams from the Puget Sound region and opened in the early fall and played until April or May.
Soccer had not even been introduced at the high school level when Olympia’s first semi-pro adult soccer team took the field in the 1960s. In 1965, there are two Olympia teams in the state league, Olympia (no-nickname) in the top division and Olympia B in the second division.
Through the late 60s, Olympia dropped down into the second division with their “B” squad disappearing from the ranks all-together. A team from Tumwater, though, entered the second division in 1967.
Those 1960s teams played at Stevens Field, the old high school stadium just south of the Lincoln School. By the 1970s, the location of Olympia’s games are only vaguely referred to as being in Lacey.
The early 1970s seemed to be the high point for competitive club soccer in Olympia.
Known by 1971 as the Olympia Vikings, the club went from the middle of the second division to leading the first division by that fall.
The Vikings were later rechristened in the fall of 1972 as the Olympia Olys. Both versions also competed in what we now call the U.S. Open Cup, our country’s version of the famous English FA Cup (then called the National Challenge Cup).
The 1971/72 Olympia Vikings were the first Thurston County team to compete in the national cup and quickly dropped out when they were beaten 6-1 in a Bay Area, California game against the “Concordia Club.”
The spring 1973 campaign by the Olympia Olys in the Challenge Cup turned out a little better. They won their first round game on February 11 against the Rainier Brewers 4-1, but a couple of weeks later, they dropped 4-2 against the San Jose (CA) Portuguese. That team would end up losing to eventual champions Maccabi Los Angeles.
A few years later, the State Soccer League in Thurston County vanishes.
Club soccer started back up in the in the 1980s, in the wake of the death of the North American Soccer League (and the top division Seattle Sounders) when FC Seattle and the Western Washington City League started up.
The WWCL was set up under the umbrella of FC Seattle, which itself was a grassroot effort to keep top-level soccer alive in Puget Sound. The eight teams of the WWCL would be feeders to the parent club, a sort of in-house minor league.
The league kicked off in 1985, with Olympia joining in 1986. FC Olympia included mostly former college and high-level amatuer players.
Jim Leingang told GoalWA, back in 2011, about the formation of the league and team.
“We contacted old teammates from high school and also a good number of guys from Evergreen and then held open tryouts. After a few phone calls to the FC Seattle office and the promise of a competitive team, we were allowed to ‘play our way in’ so to speak with three ‘friendlies’ against Federal Way, Redmond and Tacoma,” Leingang said.
“Our first match was against Federal Way after only three tryouts. We finished with a 1-1-1 record and were accepted for play in 1986. We also played in an invitational tournament in Eastern Washington that season and brought home the first place trophy.”
From the late 80s to just very recently, Olympia has been without any sort of adult semi-pro club soccer until very recently when the game moved indoors. Briefly preceded by the Tumwater Pioneers in 2012/13, the Oly Town Artesians are entering their second year in the Western Indoor Soccer League.
References and further reading:
GoalWA: Olympia FC
GoalWA: Seattle Soccer at the turn of the last century