New to the Northwest, Vancouver Victory make Mary Swisher feel at home

Women’s soccer club in first place with two home matches remaining

Mary Swisher grew up in the Bay Area, went to college in California, and played club and high school athletics in the Golden State.

No ties whatsoever to the Northwest.

But she has always been part of the soccer community.

And that makes her right at home now in the Vancouver-Portland area.

Mary Swisher has found a home in the Northwest, in part due to her love for soccer and playing for the Vancouver Victory. Photo by Paul Valencia
Mary Swisher has found a home in the Northwest, in part due to her love for soccer and playing for the Vancouver Victory. Photo by Paul Valencia

Swisher, a teacher in Portland who is working on her master’s program at Portland State University, is a team captain with the Vancouver Victory women’s soccer club. The league features college athletes trying to stay sharp in the summer months, and it is for former college players who just want to keep playing.

The sport is in their blood, their soul.

“Soccer has been my favorite thing to do since I was a kid,” Swisher said. “I want to be competitive and successful in soccer as long as I can. I love playing soccer more than anything. I do love running, but nothing compares to playing soccer.”

She met friends at Humboldt State who were from Clark County. They told her about the Victory. So when Swisher moved to the area, she inquired about playing for the club. Her first season with the Victory was in 2019. 

“I immediately made connections and friends really early,” Swisher said. “That’s super important when playing sports and looking to find a community. I wanted to end up somewhere where I had friends. The fact I made friends so quickly up here was encouraging. The team is successful. That’s a program I want to be a part of.”

Early in her teaching career, she said she wants to settle in the Northwest. She enjoys life here, and she appreciates the soccer community.

“It’s a good way to make connections,” said Swisher, who grew up in San Ramon, about 35 miles east of San Francisco.

There was no season last year for the Victory, but the club is playing an abbreviated schedule this season, with a new coach.

Josh Westermann did not know Swisher before tryouts this year. But he quickly realized what she was all about on the pitch.

“From the very first day of tryouts, I noticed leadership qualities in her,” the coach said. “We knew we needed her as a leader.”

Swisher was named a captain.

“It was really flattering and a big confidence boost,” Swisher said. “How fast he realized it, kind of indescribable. I just couldn’t stop saying, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’ It makes me feel really good about how far I’ve come as a player.”

The Victory have dozens of players on its roster, most from Clark County. There are Pac-12 athletes on the squad. And then there is Swisher, who is done with college competition but far from done with this sport.

Notes: The Victory are 3-1 in this six-match season, in first place in the Northwest Premier League, and have two home matches remaining. The Victory will take on AC Chehalem Valley at 3 p.m. Saturday at Harmony Sports Complex (1500 NE 192nd Ave., Vancouver). The Victory wrap up the regular season at home July 24 against Blackhills FC. Tickets are $5. … Maddie Goss and Paige German lead the team with three goals apiece.

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