After an exhaustive tryout process, the Rainmakers announced on Friday their 2015 roster.
Four players were already under contract heading into the final tryout. Of the 20 players added to the roster, seven return from last season’s team and 13 are rookies.
Head Coach Steve Gussin is challenged with the task of transforming this diverse group of players into a team with just over a month until opening day.
“We have a lot of returning veterans from last year,” said Gussin. “We also have an incredibly talented stable of rookies that are going to turn some heads this year. Our fans may not know their names yet, but by the end of the season, some of these guys are going to be household names.”
Now in his third season with the MLU, Breakout Player of the Year Khalif El-Salaam returns along with fellow veterans Ben Beehner, Isaac Entz, Eddie Feeley and Henry Phan. Additionally Rainmaker fans will recognize Gavin McKibben, Sam Pickel, Chris Rupp, Todd Sliva and Danny Trytiak. This core of returning veterans will be the foundation of this team, but many of them are going to have to step into new roles.
“With the loss of half the team we had to search for true role players,” said General Manager Rusty Brown. “We have a bevy of talent returning and now we’ve selected those players we feel can get us a championship.”
One of the most exciting additions to the Rainmakers this season is offensive cutter Mark Burton. In 2013, Burton broke out as a star player for the Rainmakers, but was lured down to Portland for the 2014 season. Now back in his hometown, he is confident in this year’s roster.
“It looks amazing from top to bottom,” said Burton. “With some of the guys signed and the coaches that are coming aboard this year, it’s even more exciting than the first two years I have played.”
Burton has good reason for his confidence. In the club season, along with with Rainmakers El-Salaam and Phan, his team, Seattle Mixed, was able make it to the Club Championship Finals. The trio brought along a cadre of teammates in Cam Bailey, Dominic Cavalero, Brad Houser and Evan Klein.
“I am really excited to play with my [Seattle Mixed] boys and the chemistry that a lot of these players we are signing have with each other,” said Burton. “We are a young team with some veterans who have played in big games, and that is very dangerous for any team to play against.”
While the 2014 Rainmakers suffered from a lack of cohesion, the offseason experience these players gained will be invaluable in helping them cooperate as a team.
“Team cohesion will be key,” said Brown. “We have a lot of different backgrounds and experiences and bringing all those together for the greatness of the team will be key.”
The transition between 2013 and 2014 started a rocky season for the Rainmakers, and cohesion was something that seemed to come and go for the team. In 2015 however, developing cohesion is a cornerstone of their strategy, and the influx of new talent will ensure the team is a force in the West.
Your 2015 Rainmakers are:
Cam Bailey* (Central Washington/Woodinville, Wash.)
Ben Beehner (John Carroll University/Omaha, Neb.)
Peter Bender* (University of Montana/Seattle, Wash.)
Mark Burton (Point Loma Nazarene University/Seattle, Wash.)
Bren Byerley* (Western Washington University/Bellingham, Wash.)
Dominic Cavalero* (Roosevelt High School/Seattle, Wash.)
Clay Dewey-Valentine* (Carleton College/Seattle, Wash.)
Khalif El-Salaam (University of Washington/Seattle, Wash.)
Isaac Entz (Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Newton, Kan.)
Eddie Feeley (Seattle University & University of Washington/Fort Collins, Colo.)
Brad Houser* (Bellevue College/Enumclaw, Wash.)
Evan Klein* (Virginia Tech/Charlotte, N.C.)
Gavin McKibben (University of Oregon/Seattle, Wash.)
Alex Laws* (Georgetown/Hinsdale, Ill.)
Andrew Lynch* (Reed College/Seattle, Wash.)
Matthew Neeley* (Washington State University/Richmond, Va.)
Jeff Pape* (Michigan/Wellsville, N.Y.)
Henry Phan (Franklin High School/Seattle, Wash.)
Sam Pickel (Western Washington University/Seattle, WA)
John Quandt* (Olivet Nazarene University/East Moline, Ill.)
Chris Rupp (Carleton/Eau Claire, Wis.)
Wesley Simons* (Western Washington University/Maple Valley, Wash.)
Todd Sliva (Western Washington University/Bellingham, Wash.)
Danny Trytiak (Ballard High School/Seattle, Wash.)
Ben Whipple* (Bellevue College/Redmond, Wash.)
Kai Marcus* (Roosevelt High School/Seattle, Wash.)
Peter Ostergaard* (Western Washington University/Seattle, Wash.)
Sam Berkelhammer* (University of Puget Sound/Louisville, Colo.)
*Denotes MLU rookie.