The Spokane Soccer Show is your hyperlocal source for everything kicking in the city

click to enlarge The Spokane Soccer Show is your hyperlocal source for everything kicking in the city
Erick Doxey photo
Spokane Soccer Show host Benji Wade

"Everybody can hear me in the back?"

Benji Wade scans the edge of the audience and a few thumbs pop up. About 50 listeners sit at long tables loaded with beer, pizza and fries. People in line at the order counter get distracted by the five men with microphones on a makeshift stage.

"There are people who walked in here who have no idea why there's a podcast being recorded," Wade says. "Well, welcome to Flatstick Pub, you're about to find out!"

At the downtown pub, fans of Spokane soccer are gathered for a special live taping of the Spokane Soccer Show. Spokane Velocity head coach Leigh Veidman, team captain Luis Gil and players Derek Waldeck and Andre Lewis sit for an interview with Wade, right next to the mini golf hole number 7.

They chat about all things football — career highlights, past teammates and the never-ending Ronaldo versus Messi debate, plus listener-submitted questions and the ultimate interview test: favorite foods.

Wade has been a soccer fanatic since he was a teenager, building an encyclopedic knowledge of plays, techniques and soccer history over decades of enthusiasm. A trained filmmaker and marketing expert, he created the Spokane Soccer Show last fall to explore every level of local soccer in his new-ish hometown.

So far, his podcast has featured voices from youth leagues, college teams and the city's two new professional clubs, the Velocity men and Zephyr women. It's a beginner-friendly show where Wade invites you to learn alongside other listeners.

"I wanted to be able to peel back the layers, do some education, and let them in on the secrets that a dork who's followed the sport super closely for a really long time is ready to share," he says.

But more than just building soccer knowledge, Wade wants to build identity, community and enthusiasm for Spokane via the epic stories that soccer holds.

"The way that most sports discourse is typically meted out on the public is one where it's divisive," Wade says. "There's a lot of shit talking, hot takes — the whole 'takes' industrial complex totally nauseates me. When it came to the Spokane Soccer Show ... I wanted to do anything regarding the sport with positivity and a 'big tent' attitude."

click to enlarge The Spokane Soccer Show is your hyperlocal source for everything kicking in the city
Erick Doxey photo
A live recording with the Spokane Velocity

Most weeks, Wade records the Spokane Soccer Show with the help of producer Brennon Poynor at Spokast!, a comfy podcast studio on the third floor of the Community Building on East Main Avenue.

In the inaugural Spokane Soccer Show episode last October, Wade told a bit of his own story. When he was a teenager, he ordered a pair of Patrick brand shoes from a magazine (yes, this was the '80s). They came with a surprise VHS tape (definitely the '80s) with highlights from Newcastle United.

That reel got him hooked on the sport forever.

But as a teenager in Fairbanks, Alaska, Wade didn't have access to any live games. So he contented himself with "an embarrassing number" of televised Premier League matches.

During an interview with the Inlander in the Spokast! Studio (you can listen to an audio version of this story online), Wade recalls film school at Montana State University in Bozeman, then owning a video game store and hosting an electronic music radio show as a 20-something.

Today, he's a "media professional writ large," part of the team that helped create the Spokane Velocity brand, a partner of Fellow Coworking, plus a producer for a brand new video and animation studio called Midnight Waffles. The Spokane Soccer Show is just a hobby for whatever free time he has left.

Newcastle remained a constant in his life through every unexpected step. But Wade is excited by just about any kind of soccer, especially any game that he can watch in person.

"If I'm watching the sport being played, I start to get engrossed by it," he says. "It even happens at my kids' games ... It's not only what I feel about the sport, but it's all the narratives attached to it."

Spokane is the first city where Wade has lived that has its own professional sports teams. He already can't get enough.

"You can feel the heartbeat of players, the rhythm of the drums that are being played by the supporters, the chanting, all of it," he says. "You enter into a kind of trance-like state ... I think in the same way that we instantaneously respond to music, it bypasses our discernment in our brain, our ability to scrutinize, 'Should I like this is?' It's like you don't even have a choice."

One of the most important live games for Wade was a Gonzaga women's soccer game last fall. He wasn't even supposed to be there — he accidentally crashed an invite meant for his daughter's team.

"Me like a total dork didn't even realize that the parents weren't being invited," he says. "I looked like a scene out of Billy Madison."

After just a few minutes, former players like Giana Riley and Kelsey Oyler made huge impressions. Wade had no idea that the team was ranked among the top 25 in the country and that some of the players would probably be drafted into the National Women's Soccer League. He dedicated the first episodes of the Spokane Soccer Show to the exciting end to the Zag women's season.

"The narrative of what they were doing just overtook me," he says. "I was invested in the team. I felt like I've got now a relationship to that team and to their success. Really, all I'm doing is defining fandom."

For all his knowledge about international football, Wade isn't anywhere close to being an expert on local soccer. The podcast is an excuse to talk to the coaches, clubs and experts who are active in the scene.

"I'm so curious, because I love Spokane," he says. "There's a lot of [other] people that will share things about the Spokane soccer scene. Meanwhile, I'm sharing some things that [listeners] might not know about the history of the game or tactics, or just digging up information... [Sometimes] I'm staying a few hours ahead of my listener, especially when it comes to the United Soccer League. The USL is brand new to me."

It's not just Wade — the USL is new to lots of people. It's the league for Division II and Division III professional men's soccer. Most American soccer fans are only familiar with Major League Soccer, or MLS, which is Division I men's soccer.

To chat about this and plenty of other topics, former guests of the show have included Velocity head coach Veidman, youth coach Stefan Andersson and CBS Sports writer Chuck Booth. So far, the podcast has attracted over 1,300 Instagram followers, becoming the second-most popular Spokast!-produced podcast behind former Zag basketballer Adam Morrison's show The Perimeter.

But the best is yet to come.

"I'm really looking forward to Zephyr FC coming online," Wade says. (The women's team's season-opening debut match is Aug. 17 at ONE Spokane Stadium.)

"The treatment I give to Spokane Zephyr FC will be probably equal to or more than the treatment I gave to Velocity FC when they first started playing," he continues.

For the Velocity players being interviewed in front of a crowd at Flatstick, the podcast is a welcome way to connect with their new city and fans.

"They want to know us as people, like who we are," Lewis says. "We are human. We need to engage with the community, with the kids... They come and show us the love, and we show them the love as well."

While Gil describes playing with soccer legend Ricardo Kaká while on loan to Orlando City, all eyes and ears in the audience are locked in. It's a rare moment of unity.

"We don't have, as a culture and society, very many unifying civic beliefs," Wade says. "We don't share religion. We clearly don't share politics."

But tonight, everyone in the pub is rooting for the same thing, at least for about 90 minutes or so. The beginning of every episode sums it up best: This is your Spokane Soccer Show. ♦

Follow @spokanesoccershow on Instagram and listen wherever you get your podcasts. Listen to an audio version of this piece — including a bonus quiz of host Benji Wade on his knowledge of technical soccer terms — at Inlander.com.

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Eliza Billingham

Eliza Billingham is a staff writer covering food, from restaurants and cooking to legislation, agriculture and climate. She joined the Inlander in 2023 after completing a master's degree in journalism from Boston University.