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An old face of Kitsap sports is born anew
t Former Olympic College baseball player Don Atkinson is now interim director of the KSC – and he wants involvement from the community.
He isn’t the face of Kitsap County sports, but Don Atkinson might be as pivotal to the growth of athletics in this area as anyone.
Atkinson, 72, helped found the Kitsap County-Bremerton Athletic Roundtable with the late Linc Perry in 1967. Forty-one years and several positions later, Atkinson is back as interim director of the Kitsap Sports Council.
He said the role of the Kitsap Sports Council, which was established in 2006, is similar to what the BAR has done in the area and he hopes the two organizations work closely together. Atkinson was the BAR’s first president and served two years.
“The intent is to support existing sports in the area,” he said. “The effort is to stimulate tourism in the area.”
Atkinson is excited about the area’s growth in recent years. The West Sound Saints, who now play in the North American Football League, were an expansion semi-pro football team in 2000. The Saints were joined in the NAFL this year by another local expansion team, the Kitsap Bears. Both teams play home games at Silverdale Stadium.
In addition to the football teams, the Kitsap BlueJackets are a summer team comprised of college players who compete in the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League. The BlueJackets, who were established in 2005, play home games at the Kitsap Fairgrounds in Silverdale.
Those teams might be joined by the Seattle Sounders. The Sounders, who compete in the United Soccer League, are looking to relocate from the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila because the Seattle Sounders FC will begin play as a Major League Soccer expansion team next year at Seattle’s Qwest Field.
Robin Waite, who lives in Tracyton, is a part of the Sounders’ ownership group and would like to move the team to the West Sound. Atkinson said he’s been in contact with Waite, but didn’t want to divulge much about those conversations other than that he’s optimistic the team will end up in the area.
Several youth and adult soccer players were supposed to come to Silverdale earlier this month for the Olympic Premier Invitational, but Atkinson said the event was canceled because of low registration. He said he’s looking into the possibility of getting the event back.
Atkinson, who was an infielder at Bremerton High School and Olympic College, said baseball is his favorite game. In conjunction with the BAR, he organized an effort to honor South Kitsap High School graduate and Seattle Mariners player Willie Bloomquist after the Aug. 24 game against Oakland.
The event is at Ellis Pavilion and admission is $14, which includes a ticket to the 1 p.m. game. Bloomquist will speak and be available for autographs and photographs. Atkinson said he’s been trying to honor Bloomquist since he broke in with the M’s in 2002.
“He’s a local playing locally,” Atkinson said.
That might be the extent of the Kitsap Sports Council’s involvement with professional sports. Atkinson, who spent 23 years as the news and sports director at KBRO in Bremerton, said he likely won’t get involved in an effort to lure the NBA back to Seattle. The team formerly known as the Sonics was moved by owner Clay Bennett to Oklahoma City after it reached a settlement with the city of Seattle on July 2.
The one exception might be NASCAR. Atkinson was the executive director of the North Mason Chamber of Commerce when there was discussion to bring NASCAR to Kitsap County.
“I don’t know if that’s something we can initiate,” Atkinson said. “I thought it would be an incredible financial boon to the area.”
While there isn’t a facility to bring NASCAR to the area, Atkinson said the county has venues to attract other events. Gold Mountain (Bremerton), McCormick Woods (Port Orchard), Trophy Lake (Port Orchard) and White Horse (Kingston) are regarded by many among the state’s top golf courses.
Atkinson feels that one of the courses should host the state golf championships, and has approached Washington Interscholastic Activities Association executive director Mike Colbrese. An agreement wasn’t reached, but the WIAA hasn’t selected sites for next year’s state tournaments, which are held in the spring.
In addition to the activities Atkinson is organizing, he hopes to elicit feedback from the public. He mentioned that he received a call from someone who would like to see more biking opportunities in the area.
“I think there’s some opportunities here the area hasn’t had in the past,” Atkinson said. “I would like to have some community effort and support.”