Chris Slatt, Co-founder and Executive Chairman
As founder and former Chairman & CEO of WatchGuard Technologies, Inc., a Seattle-based technology company (NASDAQ: WGRD), Chris brings his entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen to Starfire. After twenty-two years in the technology industry, from spearheading computer system projects for NASA and New York’s Con Edison while a Boeing Company executive to founding and successfully leading the growth of a world-wide technology company, Chris is now concentrating all of his energy and focus on the Starfire mission of helping all youth benefit from participation in soccer. As a soccer parent to two teenage daughters, Chris was struck by the positive impact that the game had on his daughters, and the potential to extend these benefits to more youth. Chris was the driving force in establishing the framework for Starfire and serves as Executive Chairman of the Board. Chris and his wife, Jeanine, make their home in Burien.
Steve Beck, Co-founder, Secretary and Director
Steve brings a wealth of project management, marketing, and development business experience to the Starfire team. As a land developer, real estate broker and consultant for over 30 years in the Puget Sound area, Steve’s market research and common sense approach has led to many successful projects in the Northwest. As the father of three girls’ soccer players, Steve has personally experienced the benefits that the game can bring to a child and the difference that sports can make in the overall community. He will tell his friends that his real claim to fame is that all of his daughters earned college degrees while playing soccer for their universities! Born and raised in the Mount Baker district of Seattle, Steve sees Starfire as an opportunity to use his diverse background and join with other dedicated soccer enthusiasts to give back to the community. Steve is a director and secretary of the corporation and works on special projects at Starfire. Steve and his wife Debra live in SeaTac and enjoy watching their granddaughters participate in the Starfire Academy Kids Programs!
Mark Bickham, Co-founder and Director
With an all-encompassing lifelong commitment to soccer, Mark was the determined inspiration behind the founding of Starfire Sports. As a former amateur and professional indoor soccer player, youth coach, trainer, and parent, his experience with the beautiful game spans across the pond from Ireland and the West End of London to many regions of the United States. Following a five year career with several US Indoor professional teams, and being a true “soccer entrepreneur,” Mark founded his company, Little Feet Soccer, in 1994 to bring world class training methods and pure enjoyment to small children. He has coached or trained many very successful boys’ and girls’ premier teams in Washington State, including the 1999 Highline Eagles GU14 team where he trained the daughters of Steve Beck and Chris Slatt. It was during his time with the Eagles that Mark began talking with Chris and Steve about creating a soccer facility in the Seattle area. Following the successful launch of Starfire, Mark coached and trained youth teams at the El Dorado Soccer Academy in Sacramento before heading back to Seattle in March of 2016 to join Federal Way FC.
Mike McConnell, Director & Audit Committee Chairman
Mike McConnell joined Starfire Sports as board member and Chair of the Audit Committee in October 2014. Mike brings 40+ years of operational and financial executive experience in both private and public companies from broad-based industries, making him adaptable to both strategic and tactical environments. Mike earned his CPA certification while employed at Deloitte & Touche (Los Angeles, CA), where his experience included managing multiple audit engagements. Since then, he has served as CFO for several private and public companies in California and Washington whose revenues ranged from $20M to $300M during his tenure. In late 2013, Mike retired as CFO of Digimarc Corporation where he had worked since 2004. Mike brings vital experience and vision to the Starfire Board.
Eric Olmstead, Director
Binghamton, New York native Eric Olmstead is a soccer enthusiast with a background in business operations and real estate. During his career, Eric has developed strong connections in the real estate and construction industries.
Eric earned his degree from the Rochester Institute for Technology, where he played four years of collegiate soccer. Upon graduation in 1987, Eric moved to Seattle to begin his career with Leibsohn Boguch Commercial Real Estate. After ten years with Leibsohn Boguch, Eric became a founding partner for the Bellevue office of Washington Partners, where he continued his work in commercial real estate. In 2010, Eric left Washington Partners to purchase Sound Safety Products, which is a company providing safety equipment to companies throughout the NW as well as running four Seattle area retail stores called Work-n-More which caters to the industrial workers clothing and footwear needs.
When Eric is not running the day-to-day sales operations of Sound Safety Products, he enjoys playing soccer, skiing, fishing, hiking, and spending time with his son Kyle and wife Wendy to whom he has been married for 25 years.
Gary Wright, Director
Previously serving as Senior Vice President after four seasons as the club’s Senior Vice President of Business Operations, sports industry veteran Gary Wright continues as a consultant with Sounders FC. In his role, Wright serves as an advisor for all business operations, including ticket sales, corporate partnerships, community outreach, charities, fan experience, communications and marketing of the team.
In 2009, Wright helped spearhead one of the most successful launches of a franchise in American sports history, as Sounders FC set a MLS season record for attendance with an average of 30,897, and received the Doug Hamilton MLS Executive of the Year Award. In the club’s second year, the team averaged 36,173 and earned the Sports Business Journal Award for Professional Franchise of the Year. In 2011, Wright was honored as the Executive of the Year at the 77th Seattle Sports Star of the Year Awards, and in 2012 Sounders FC again set a MLS record, averaging 43,144. Wright helped lead Sounders FC to a fifth-straight league attendance record in 2013 with an average of 44,038, including a crowd of 67,385 for the Portland Timbers match on August 25 – the second-largest attendance for a standalone match in league history.
Prior to joining Sounders FC, Wright retired from the Seattle Seahawks after serving the franchise for 32 years, including the final 21 as a Vice President. Wright originally joined the Seahawks in 1976 as Director of Publicity. He was named Public Relations Director in 1982 and became the team’s very first Vice President in 1987. He was chosen by Hall of Famer Steve Largent to be his presenter at Largent’s July 1995 induction ceremony. Wright assisted the National Football League’s media relations staff at 23 Super Bowls. Upon his retirement, the Seattle Seahawks named the press box at CenturyLink Field the Gary Wright Press Box in his honor.
Wright spent two seasons prior to joining the Seahawks as the Publicity Director for the Southern California Sun of the World Football League and as league Publicity Director. Wright also served as Vice President of Operations for the Phoenix Racquets of World Team Tennis. Wright was the Sports Information Director at Long Beach State University and coached football and basketball while teaching history and journalism in high school after graduating from Long Beach State.
Wright is also a member of the Glendale College and Northwest Football Halls of Fame. He and his wife, Ann, have a family that includes their two grown sons, Larry and Steve; their wives Katy and Michelle; and five grandchildren, Owen, Fiona, Audrey, Stella and Maxwell.