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For OL Reign, a move back to Starfire is a small step forward for training facilities

• Reign’s move from a Tacoma high school to Starfire is an upgrade, but not without flaws
• NWSL original team tries to keep pace with expanding league and growing infrastructure
• Players say they see the long-term vision, but there are still short-term challenges

Jane Gershovich / OL Reign

TUKWILA, Wash. – As the whistle sounded for kickoff on Feb. 25 at Starfire Sports complex, blue and yellow ribbons streamed onto the field from Club América fans. Directly across from the larger set of stands there was a sea of yellow, the Mexican club’s trademark color.

América fans were numerous, but OL Reign, still in preseason, served as host for the friendly match. That the game took place in Starfire’s main stadium was significant. Starfire is, once again, the team’s training facility, an imperfect solution but a marked improvement in day-to-day life from Tacoma, where the club partly utilized high school for the past few years.

Ahead of her team’s 3-1 win over Club América, Reign forward Tziarra King expressed her excitement for the move but confirmed that it isn’t a smooth setup yet.

“Obviously, like any new place, you’re going to have your things you are working out, your kinks, your operational things, so we’re figuring those things out,” she said.

Still, players and staff see the improvements over their previous setup, which saw the team convert a high-school classroom into a makeshift gym for weight training. That was positioned across the parking lot from Cheney Stadium, the baseball stadium the team played at from 2019-2022. The humble Tacoma confines were the team’s reality in the short-term effort to stay in the market.

Now, the Reign are playing at Lumen Field in downtown Seattle. The National Women’s Soccer League has also changed considerably in the years since, and professional training grounds are among the most important and tangible improvements to player livelihood.

The Reign’s long-term solution remains in progress, but everyone at the club sees this move as one for the future.

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