Sports

Sting Moves to Oak Harbor

Known at the Skagit Valley Lightning since joining the Evergreen Football League in 2005, the team has moved its base of football operations to Oak Harbor for the 2009 season and has been renamed the North Sound Sting.  - file photo
Known at the Skagit Valley Lightning since joining the Evergreen Football League in 2005, the team has moved its base of football operations to Oak Harbor for the 2009 season and has been renamed the North Sound Sting.
— image credit: file photo

Beginning next year, Oak Harbor will have its own team in the Evergreen Football League.

Randy Rogers, owner and head coach of the team once known as the Skagit Valley Lightning, announced this week the team is moving its base of football operations to Oak Harbor.

Along with the move comes a change in name and a change in uniform design.

“We will now be the North Sound Sting and instead of wearing the old black and gold uniforms, we will wear black and blue uniforms similar to what North Carolina does,” Rogers said.

Home games will be played at Wildcat Memorial Stadium, where the Lightning played several times last year, but practice sessions will still be conducted at various facilities between Mount Vernon and Arlington.

“The reason for this is the core of our players are from that area,” Rogers said. “Some come from even as far south as Bothell and Seattle, and as far north as Bellingham.”

Rogers said practice sessions have already begun and right now he is looking for more players.

“We have about 20 players returning to the roster and most of them are in skill positions,” he said. “What we really need are offensive and defensive linemen.”

Rogers, who is in the Navy and stationed in Everett, said he was once stationed at NAS Whidbey Island and has been involved with the Evergreen Football League since 2002.

“I started out as a volunteer with the Northwest Avalanche that eventually became the Bellingham Bulldogs,” he said. “Craig Jackson owned the team and he is now my offensive coordinator.”

The Skagit Valley Lightning was created in 2004 and began league play in 2005.

Other teams in the EFL are the Blue Mountain Stars, the Columbia Basin Riverhawks, the Oakanogan County Commandos, the Palouse Thunder, the South Sound Shockers, the Spokane Sabercats, the State Line Miners, the Tr-City Knights, the Wenatchee Valley Rams and the Yakima Mavericks, in addition to the Bulldogs and the Sting.

The Blue Mountain Stars is one of the top teams in the league and are two-time defending EFL champions, after finishing as runners up in 2005 and 2006.

Rogers’ team has never made an EFL playoff appearance and finished the 2008 season with a 1-9 record, something he hopes to change this season.

“At the end of last season some of the players came to me and said there needed to be some changes made,” he said. “Among those changes were a different offensive philosophy and having someone other than a player be the head coach.”

Those changes have been made and Rogers said he anticipates a more successful season this year.

“At this level there is a lot of team jumping, players moving from one team to another, due to losing, management, or those who want to play for a team that is more financially stable,” he said.

What the Sting is seeking to do is put together a group of players who believe in what the team wants to accomplish and wanting to remain a member of the team.

Rogers said the goal of the team is not to make money.

“Our budget is not large and we figure if we can put 200 people in the stands every time, the games will pay for themselves,” he said.

The 2009 season schedule is still being worked on and the Sting will play eight league games and two preseason games this year.

“We are also looking for some people who would like to volunteer to be members of the chain gang and do all the other little things that will make our home games a success,” he said.

The first preseason games are expected to be played in mid-March.

For more information about the Sting, visit northsoundsting.com.

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