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Kitsap Pumas fans get loud
When Alison Loris pounds her drum, donning Kitsap Pumas gear from head to toe, the rest of the team’s fan club knows what comes next.
Loris, a member of the Hellcats, an independent fan club for the Bremerton soccer team, starts the chant, “Let’s go Pumas” at every home game and Tuesday’s third round U.S. Open Cup game against the Seattle Sounders.
“I’ve turned into a soccer hooligan,” said Loris, whose husband, Ian Logan, is also a self-described avid Pumas fan and member of the fan club.
The Bremerton couple have been fans of the Pumas since the team started operations in 2008. They said they love that the Premier Development League team is based in a small town, playing its home games just blocks away from their house.
So when the Pumas earned a spot to play the Sounders, their first Major League Soccer opponent, at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila Tuesday, the fans’ big moment finally arrived.
Despite the Pumas’ 2-1 defeat in front of a crowd of 3,800, Logan said he was happy the Pumas shared the field with Seattle.
“This is our Super Bowl,” he added. “We’re finally playing an MLS team. Win or lose, we made it this far.”
The couple has connected with the franchise by attending every home game, greeting team owner Robin Waite on the sidelines and catching up with players when they cross paths at the grocery store.
Logan has a tattoo on his right calf of the Kitsap Pumas logo. The two share a bond with the team.
“It gives everyone in Bremerton something to rally around,” Logan said. “It feels like they belong to us a little bit, and we belong to them.”
As for rituals, the couple keeps it simple.
“Just show up and make a lot of noise,” Logan added.
Meanwhile, two Olympic High School students from Bremerton drove to Tukwila to watch the Pumas in action.
Harry Hanson and Ricky Wright, both Olympic boys soccer players, helped start the Kitsap Pumas Elite, a second fan club for the team, three years ago.
The students cheered the Pumas by wearing blue and white flags around their necks with Kitsap jerseys. They agreed Tuesday was the biggest match in the Pumas’ brief history.
Hanson said his favorite ritual involves joining other Kitsap fans in various chants and songs with their scarves held high above their heads.
“It’s in our blood to be here,” Hanson said. “It’s fun to go crazy, and it’s an honor for them to play Seattle.”
Nels Gabbert, of Portland, drove from home to watch the Pumas, specifically, defender Taylor Hyde, a family friend. Gabbert said he’s only attended “four or five” Pumas games so far, but he’s already a fan, sporting a team scarf around his neck.
“We wanted to come up tonight and experience the game live,” Gabbert said. “It’s great when you see them with the fans and seeing the kids when they rush the field.”
After the 2-1 loss, the Pumas followed with their own ritual – spending time with the faithful.
Players signed autographs and took pictures with their fan base, expressing gratitude for making the trip to Tukwila.
As usual, Logan and his wife greeted the players, who know some of the fans on a first-name basis. The Pumas are thankful for their fans, and the feeling is mutual, Logan said.
“It’s our team,” he added. “You may not get that from larger clubs, so it’s special.”
Second photo: Jaxon Lee, nephew of Pumas defender Mark Lee, shows off his jersey and blue hair Tuesday. Photo by Mike Baldwin