For 2011, the Sahlen family owned Western New York Flash has renewed their partnership with Mazda USA to promote Women’s Soccer. In 2010, the Flash players were proud to wear the Mazda branding on their jerseys, as the team succeeded in capturing the United Soccer Leagues’ W-League (Women’s League) National Title against a field of 38 teams across North America. As the 2011 Season nears, the Western New York Flash and Mazda will be taking the significant step up to the elite Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) League.
“We are very excited to be assisting the Flash in being ambassadors in promoting Women’s Professional Soccer to the public. Anyone who has had an opportunity to see this top level of Women’s Professional Soccer, knows that this is a fast action sport, with players zooming around the field.” – States Christopher Bretschger, Mazda North American Manager of Online & Social Media
Mazda and the Sahlen family also have a dual partnership that extends to Motorsports Racing. The Sahlen family owned Team Sahlen competes in the Grand American ROLEX Sports Car Series. And the car of choice for Team Sahlen is of course the Mazda RX-8. During the 2010 race season, Team Sahlen assisted Mazda in winning the ROLEX Sports Car Series GT Class Manufacturer’s Title. For 2011, Team Sahlen will be entering three Mazda RX-8s, #42, #3 & #49, in a quest to repeat that title for Mazda. The format for the 12 event ROLEX Sports Car Racing series is endurance races that range from 3 hours to as long as 24 Hour races. Lead driver for the team will be former Indy Car driver Memo Gidley. Accompanying Memo in the Team Sahlen Mazdas will be the family of Joe Nonnamaker and his sons Wayne and Will. Additionally, Joe Sahlen will be driving in selected events when there are not conflicts with the Western New York Flash games.
One of the key aspects to the Flash and Mazda’s promotion of Women’s soccer will be a unique paint scheme on the #49 RX-8 that is driven by Joe Sahlen. The entire car will be painted to mirror image the Western New York Flash logo. The RX-8 will be primarily red, with black bumpers. And the car will be accented with yellow “Flash” lightning bolts. Emblazoned next to the Sahlen’s logo on the hood and both rear panels will be the Flash name branding. (Similarly, both the logos for Sahlen’s and Flash are waving flags, and sharing the same cursive font) Then to top off the distinctive look will be the roof that will be decaled as a large soccer ball. In that way, no one can miss the theme to this racer.
“From the very beginning we had the concept in mind to integrate these two entities into one concise sports marketing brand, much in the same way the Kraft family has done with the New England Patriots and their New England Revolution of the Men’s Major Soccer League. Both the Flash and Team Sahlen’s colors are Red & Yellow with a Lightning bolt theme. Both entities have a very focused Family inviting environment.” Shared principal Joe Sahlen. “The Motorsports campaign offers a very unique opportunity to spread the word of the WPS to the public. During the year, Team Sahlen will be racing in many venues that are near WPS Teams. Benefiting the Boston Breakers, we will be in the New England market in central Connecticut at Lime Rock Park on Memorial Weekend. The event at New Jersey Motorsports Park will be great to get the word out for 2 WPS Team; Philadelphia Independence and the New Jersey based Sky Blue FC. And since the Washington Freedom will be play half their games in DC and half in Florida, our racing events in Florida and at Virginia International Raceway will be of great assistance.”
Of course we can’t forget about one additional event on the ROLEX racing calendar that will be held in New York, at the historic Watkins Glen International. The event will be the Sahlen’s 6 Hours of the Glen. For the past 2 seasons, the Flash have been the honorary Grand Marshalls for the event. And with game conflicts notwithstanding, the Flash players will be out in full force again supporting Team Sahlen and meeting with WPS soccer fans at the track.
Both the Flash and Team Sahlen’s events will be televised during the 2011 season: The Flash on FOX Sports and Team Sahlen on SPEED TV. Both stations are owned by the FOX family of networks. Although nothing officially can be announced yet, there are several exciting ideas that are being discussed on how to bring these two Fox stations together for some unique programming.
“2010 marked the second season for the Flash. In our inaugural season we learned a lot, garnering a 9 wins, 3 ties and 2 losses record and advancing to the 2nd round of the W-League Tournament. During last year, the Flash players had a dream season, going undefeated during the regular season, then we were able to work our way through the National Tournament in Santa Clarita, California where we defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps. For 2011, we are excited to bring back Kelly Parker and Gemma Davison, as well as several other players being invited into camp to earn a spot on the squad. In addition, we have added several national team players to the roster including Christine Sinclair, Ashlyn Harris, Yael Averbuch, and Caroline Seger that should really provide depth as we move up to the WPS against some very professional teams.” States Flash Coach Aaran Lines, “We are very excited to be partnered with Mazda again for 2011. Mazda is a fantastic company to work with. During 2010, the players had the opportunity to be able to drive around in a Flash branded Mazda CX-9. This CX-9 seats 7 players comfortably with room to spare in the back for their gear. I myself had the honor of driving the CX-9 around Watkins Glen International, during the NASCAR weekend, as a lap of honor for the Flash’s National Championship.”
“I have had the great pleasure to have raced Mazdas for over 12 seasons. This includes several different models through the years such as MX-6, 626, Mazdaspeed3 and RX-8. I love driving them on the track, and have owned several for the street. To have Mazda partnered with the Flash and Team Sahlen is fantastic. Unlike any other Automotive Manufacturer I know, they are more connected to the heart and soul of the enthusiasts that drive them. To bring that enthusiasm together with the Western New York Flash is great. Women’s Soccer has become not only a mainstay of athletics for girl’s growing up, but for our sporting culture in general, evident by the 1999 World Cup. Being a lifelong Soccer player and enthusiast of the sport, I was so affected by the Women’s National Team that I even named my daughter Mia.” – shared Team Sahlen driver Will Nonnamaker
For 2011, the Flash will be playing their Home Games at Rhinos Stadium Park in Rochester New York. The Soccer specific facility has a capacity of 13,768 and provides the fans with European style “up close to the action” atmosphere. For training, the Flash players will be conducting their pre-season and midweek practices at the Sahlen Sports Park. The park is based in Elma, New York, just outside Buffalo, New York. The facility boosts a full regulation field, 2 Indoor fields, a boarded field, soccer training facility, and Thurman Thomas Sports Training Center. This provides an excellent facility to field a Top Level Women’s Professional team in the WPS.
Shares Alex Sahlen, president of Sahlen’s Sports Park “We hold over 100 leagues and tournaments throughout the year at the park throughout the year at the park. Not just for Soccer, but for Lacrosse, Field Hockey, Softball and Football. It is great to have the Flash players intermixing with our other guests at the park. But most importantly, having the Flash players train at the Park is great for the young youth girl’s team; so that as the girls grow up, they can realize that they too could be the next future Flash player.”