Chet North, a Pacific Northwest native, couldn’t turn down the opportunity. The year was 1996 and an MLS team in Kansas City was looking for a head athletic trainer.
North had been a trainer for the University of Washington, Seattle University and the Seattle Seahawks. The offer from the Wiz, however, was too good to refuse.
Fifteen years have passed from the league’s early days and Kansas City’s name has changed to Sporting KC (via the Wizards). Remarkably, North has been there for the entire ride. Earlier this year, team officials approached North with a request: they wanted to honor him as the only original employee from the inaugural season and they needed him to pick a home game.
The choice was easy. It had to be the visit from his hometown team, the Sounders.
In addition to the recognition last weekend, North’s sons — Noah, 4, and Kaiden, 3 — kicked out the game ball prior to the match. But that wasn’t all.
“What I didn’t expect was the Seattle staff to come up, congratulate me and give me a gift bag with jerseys from the Sounders and Seahawks,” wrote North in an email. “It was a wonderful gesture of honor and respect that I truly appreciated. It is nice that even though I am miles away from Seattle I can still feel a special connection. The Sounders staff made that happen.
“I look forward to our game in Seattle next year so I can come back to the area, but a part of me believes we will meet again in the MLS Cup this year. Thank you, good luck the rest of the way and hopefully we meet again November 20th in Los Angeles for the championship.”