Roots in the Sounders Family

Sounders Women Feature -

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Federal Way native Holland Crook left family and friends to attend Arizona State University. Now, she returns home to represent the team that her family has been a part of for decades.

Crook attended Todd Beamer High School and began turning heads early in her career. She was named South Puget Sound League -South Player of the Year three times, an All-State player three times, The News Tribune’s All-Area Player of the Year in 2007 and 2009, and ESPN All-Area player in 2008. As a sophomore, Crook won the Washington 4-A State Most Valuable Player award.

Following high school, she had the choice of numerous schools, but chose to branch out and join Arizona State University. Crook, who will be a senior at Arizona State next year, has played in all 61 matches and has also been named an All PAC-12 Academic Honorable Mention.

This summer, however, she returned home to join several of her PAC-12 competitors on a talented Sounders Women squad that leads the W-League’s Western Conference after five games. Crook has made four appearances so far this season. She made her first start in a 2-2 draw against the Colorado Rush on May 31 in front of her family and friends at Starfire Sports.

“Dutchy,” as she’s known to her coaches and teammates, is a member of a family that is deeply entrenched in the Seattle soccer community; one with multiple connections to the Sounders name. Bill Crook, Holland’s father, was a professional player for 18 years for clubs such as the San Jose Earthquakes, and had two separate stints with the Seattle Sounders. Bill is now an assistant coach for the Sounders Academy, where Holland’s brother, Ike, currently plays.

Crook is home with her family for the summer and for the first time, they’re all a part of the Sounders community.

"I like being back in the northwest for the summer. It’s fun to be a part of the same thing my dad and my brother are so involved in," Crook said. "I’m playing at home which I don’t get a lot unless maybe we’re playing the UW. The transition has been good because I’m playing and I’m also getting prepared here for school and I’m getting touches on the ball at a really good level, so I couldn’t be asking for a better way to spend my summer."

Now that Crook is a member of the Sounders playing community, she gets to experience the same sense of camaraderie that so much of her family already has.

"It’s really exciting! I come home and my brother has all this Sounders gear, and I want it, but now I have stuff of my own!" she said. "It has been a lot of fun and now the Sounders name has been in my family for awhile, especially now with having two of us playing under the Sounders name."

Although Crook and her brother grew up in a soccer-centric household, she feels that she was never pressured to be involved with the sport, and that her family would have supported her in the fullest with whatever she wanted to be active in. Crook sees her father as an integral part of her playing development, but also as a loving, understanding role model.

"People always ask me, ’Did you play because of your dad?’ and that has never been a part of it," Crook said. "If I had wanted to do ballet or whatever, I could have, and I would have had complete support in that too. He was my club coach, for forever, so I got to have that connection too, where he’s not just my dad, he’s my coach, as well, and having that has always been a lot of fun."

Crook sees her father’s experience with the game and the trust she has in him as the best way to get the most out of the good times, and to get through the bad times.

"He has taught me so much as a coach, but also in the support I get from him as a parent, and as a parent that has experienced it, is great. He’s the first one I’m calling after games, and it’s nice to have that. It is nice to have someone to go to that knows if I’ve had a bad game. He’s there to tell me ’Just play simple’, so I trust his opinion to help me get through the rough times, and even the good times."

Crook has quickly filled an important role on her new squad. She has earned a starting spot and can be found all over the pitch on game day. Asserting herself as a box-to-box midfielder, Crook has set her sights on winning with the talent and depth that the Sounders Women possess.

"As a team, we want to win as much as possible and continue on as far as we can, and that’s always the goal," Crook said. "Personally, I’m just trying to get better all the time, and every single time I step on the pitch, so I think that why I come out and try to get something out of every training session. I can always learn something from coaches that I have and new coaches that I’ve never worked with in my game. I’m going to learn something different from them than I’ve learned from other people."

In the Sounders Women’s first W-League road trip of the 2013 season, the team faced the challenging lineups of the L.A. Strikers, the Santa Clarita Blue Heat, and the defending Western Conference Champions, the Pali Blues. The Sounders Women found wins in two of those matches and played to a draw in the other, earning seven of the possible nine points. crook said the trip was important for developing the team chemistry necessary to have a successful campaign.

"It has been a lot of fun," Crook said. "Getting back from our first trip was nice, because I feel like you show up for training, but a lot of the girls are still in school, so you don’t get to know them. So, I thought this trip was really fun getting to know the girls. You’re with everyone in close quarters for five days. Even soccer-wise; the training is good, the coaches are good, and these girls can really play. So I really like coming here every day and knowing I can get something out of it each day."

Crook and the rest of the Sounders Women hit the road again this weekend facing the Colorado Rapids Women on Friday and the Colorado Rush on Sunday. The Sounders Women return home to Starfire Sports in Tukwila, Wash. on Friday, June 21 when they kick off against the Bay Area Breeze at 7 p.m.