WWU soccer connections return alum to Western fold
For Lance McIntosh (’83), soccer has proved to be a sport with staying power. “My first exposure to it,” he says, “was as a student at Western with a bunch of guys who played in the city league in Bellingham. I played football and basketball at Snohomish High School and then all the intramural sports at Western – basketball and football and co-ed softball. I have great memories of intermural activities up at Western.”
By the time his ten-year-old son got involved in soccer 12 years ago, McIntosh already had years of coaching youth sports under his belt, from little league baseball and youth soccer at the recreational level, to women’s high school basketball across the Bellevue-Redmond community. “But with my son’s involvement in premier soccer 12 years ago, I got really involved with the Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association and their Crossfire Premier teams. Through my involvement in those programs, I became familiar with the coaching staffs at many of the universities in the Northwest, up and down the West coast and all over the country.” That familiarity also made McIntosh realize that Western was his original, “home” program, especially when he met WWU soccer coaches Travis Connell and Greg Brisbon. Though McIntosh hadn’t had much of a connection with Western since graduating two decades earlier, these personal connections proved galvanizing – and decisive: “I just thought, ‘You know, they’ve got to have soccer on campus.’ And I decided I’d do whatever I could to help them bring the game back to campus.”
An initial gift by Lance and his wife Joy has already partly contributed to the new Harrington multi-purpose field that returned WWU’s soccer teams to home ground from their longtime Whatcom Community College base. More recently, Lance and Joy’s $25,000 McIntosh Family Fund for Competitiveness in Men’s Soccer addresses a range of costs that will ensure the development, growth and enhancement of WWU Men’s Soccer, from student-athlete scholarships to coaching assistance and competition registration fees.
“My wife and son and I have fond memories of travelling all over the country as a family and seeing kids play, seeing the opportunities that soccer can offer kids,” explains McIntosh. “It’s a gateway for a lot of people to get into schools that they wouldn’t have dreamed of getting into otherwise. And at college level, so many of the kids on the soccer teams tend to really be student-athletes, good students as well as committed athletes. I just like the idea that these kids, they work so hard both on and off the field, in the classroom, it’s just exciting to me.”
And, sometimes, doing things the right way entails a different kind of gesture: at the Harrington Field dedication this September, McIntosh and WWU Trustee Chase Franklin (‘86) contributed 500 Viking scarves to students attending the same-day soccer match. “I hope that that kind of support continues throughout the year,” says McIntosh. “I think it’s important to create fun for the students and athletes, and supporting WWU just seemed like the obvious easy way for me to get more connected with the university and help out.”