The National Women’s Soccer League is on break for the Olympics, you’re biding your time until you can watch the US Women’s National Team go for gold (an attempt they’ll make without Alex Morgan on the team for the first time since 2008), and you can’t even turn to *gasp* men’s soccer since the US Men’s National Team didn’t even make it out of group play in the COPA America tournament. So, how are you going to survive these hot July days without any soccer news to subsist on?

Well, I have good news. Seattle is getting a semi-pro women’s soccer team. The leadership team who brought you Ballard FC, Seattle's semi-pro men’s team, is banding together with women’s sports bar Rough & Tumble Pub, multiple Seattle Reign players, leadership from the Seattle Storm, and others to bring another women’s team to Ballard. 

This effort, spearheaded by Ballard FC and the women’s sports community in Seattle, will be pivotal for growing women’s soccer, both for athletes and fans alike. It also cements Seattle as a leader in the growing women’s sports world. 

The USL W league, the semi-pro league for women, began in 2022 with 44 teams. It’s nearly doubled in that time. This new women’s team—which, while it will be supported by Ballard FC resources will not be share the Ballard FC name—will be part of the league’s 2025 expansion.

“I’m so excited about being part of bringing this USL W team to Seattle and particularly our neighborhood in Ballard,” Jen Barnes, Rough & Tumble owner, said. 

Barnes is signed on as an investor in the new team. Her bar will also be a hub for following and supporting the future team with merch, watch parties, and every game broadcasted on its screens. 

“Rough & Tumble exists to highlight, uplift, and grow women’s sports,” Barnes said. “For me, this felt like a natural progression of what Rough & Tumble is already doing. To be able to be a part of creating additional opportunities for women’s soccer players to develop is an incredible opportunity and privilege.”

USL and USL W teams exist as a bridge between amateur and collegiate soccer to professional soccer. Establishing a women’s team in Seattle will get more players in the pipeline aimed toward a soccer career. 

The future team, whose name and logo will be unveiled in the fall, will be in the USL W's Northwest division. Teams from Tacoma, Olympia, Salem, Portland, and Eugene already compete in that division. 

“We're looking forward to working with our fellow clubs to continue advancing the women's game across the nation by increasing competition,” Jenny Begley, a spokesperson for Ballard FC said. 

The team has 25 women in its ownership group, many of whom are deeply connected to the local women’s sports world. Two of those owners are Jess Fishlock and Lauren “Lu” Barnes, Seattle Reign FC players who joined the team in 2013, its inaugural season. 

“It’s a really big deal for Lu and Jess,” Barnes explained. “These opportunities did not exist for them. This is not just paying it forward for them, but it’s an opportunity—they helped build women’s sports in Seattle, and now they get to build out those opportunities for the next level for all the women athletes coming up after them.”

The entire ownership group! Can you spot your favorite Reign players? COURTESY OF BALLARD FC

In addition to Barnes and Fishlock, Reign FC midfielder Olivia Van der Jagt is a part-owner in the team, as is former Reign FC/ current Gotham FC defender Sam Hiatt. Ginny Gilder, the co-owner of the Seattle Storm, is also invested in the new team.

The cross-sport investment is a sign of the quickly growing landscape of women's sports, an industry that could rake in $1 billion for the first time this year, according to a forecast from Deloitte. 

“As I look at the landscape of women’s sports on a national and international level, what Rough & Tumble is doing goes beyond our neighborhood and city,” Barnes says. “This feels monumental; it feels like we’re on the cusp of being in the next phase of women’s sports in this country, and I’m so thrilled to be part of it.”

My only note to the leadership team: Make sure this team has a chant that’s just as catchy as Ballard FC’s “Up the bridges.”