Pride Night

Interview with Danny Waltman of the Tacoma Stars

by Andrew McGinnis

The Tacoma Stars soccer club will host their first Pride Night on January 18, 2019. The special event will celebrate Seattle’s LGBTQ communities and create a comfortable space for the communities to soak in the sporting game.

I sat down with the Stars’ goalkeeper and newly named Player of the Week, Danny Waltman, to find out more about the upcoming Pride Night.

“We’re all about supporting the community. We want to get out there and support organizations and groups of people that we feel need recognition. We’re happy to help out any way that we can,” said Waltman. “We have a really special family atmosphere. You can feel it at the games. You can feel it at the practices. It’s awesome to be on the inside and be a part of it.”

The Tacoma Stars, based at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent, is a leading soccer club of the Western Indoor Soccer League.

Waltman hails from Gig Harbor, WA, and was exposed to soccer and the Tacoma Stars at a young age. His dad served as a manager of the Stars, so Danny spent quite a bit of time around the team back then. He fell in love with soccer and with the Stars team.

He played at the University of Washington, and then signed with the Seattle Sounders, as he says, ‘before it was cool.’

“I actually played with our [current Stars Head Coach] Darren Sawatzky on that team. That was his last professional season playing with the Sounders,” recalled Waltman. “Brian Schmetzer was our coach at the time. It was pretty cool to have that as my rookie season. I had some great guys to learn from.”

After playing on several Midwest teams, Waltman heard that the Tacoma Stars were re-forming after a long hiatus.

“I actually had a clause in my contract in Kansas City that if Tacoma came back, I could leave free and clear,” he said, “I made a call to Darren, (the Stars’) coach, and told him I’m ready to come home any time.”

Now the Stars have been together for four seasons, growing and learning as a team. “It takes a few years to develop a team culture and style of play and we’re just on the cusp of that,” said Waltman.

Needless to say, Danny plays a big part in the team’s culture and the way they interact with fans. One thing he likes to do after every match is throw his gloves out into the crowd.

“The fans in this league are awesome. I saw a fan recently at a beach in California. He was a surfer, and he said 10 or 11 years ago I gave him a goalie glove and it was the coolest thing,” said Waltman. “He lived in his van, he’s a surf instructor and ski instructor and went from Colorado to California. He said he didn’t even have that many possessions, but he still had that glove. “

Tickets are available at gaycity.org/soccerpride. A portion of the proceeds will support Gay City: Seattle’s LGBTQ Center.

Thank you to Danny for taking the time to talk with us, and the Tacoma Stars for supporting the community.