For five years, Danny Waltman was the face of the Kansas City Comets.
The popular goalkeeper was the first player to sign with the new MISL team back in 2010 and would even man the phones in the new team’s temporary Independence office, trying to drum up fan interest while selling a few season tickets.
He led the Comets to an MISL championship in 2013-14 and a perfect 20-0 regular season record the following season. But Waltman felt that it was important to return home to Tacoma, Wash., to wrap up his career and in June of 2015 he signed with the Tacoma Stars.
It was a difficult move, but one Waltman doesn’t regret.
“Words will never express how much I love the Comets, the Comets fans and the Comets organization,” Waltman said by phone earlier this week. “It was a difficult decision, but I wanted to be near my family. You know, and I hope all the fans in Kansas City know, I will always be a Comet.”
Waltman, 35, was born and raised in Gig Harbor, Wash., and his father was a member of the group that owned the Stars when they played at the Tacoma Dome in the 1980s and 1990s.
He will make his second trip back to Silverstein Eye Centers Arena at 7:35 tonight when the Comets play host to Waltman and his Stars teammates, who include three other former Comets – Alain Matingou, Ramone Palmer and Robert Palmer.
“Danny was the best – the best goalie, the best teammate, the best roomie,” said former Comets defender Brian Harris, who roomed with Waltman on the road and formed a friendship that now spans 1,850 miles as Waltman starts his third season in Tacoma.
“We have a little surprise in store for Danny Friday. Ryan Junge (former Comets defender) and I are going to sit behind the net Friday night and heckle him. We’re going to go from goal to goal and give it to him. I hope he can handle it.”
Waltman laughs, “Bring it on fellas.”
The University of Washington product helped the Comets to that perfect 20-0 regular season and led the Major Arena Soccer League with 17 wins in his final season in Kansas City.
He also played an important role during the 2013-14 championship campaign. His 300 saves (249 regular season and 51 playoffs) paved the way to the lone championship in team history.
“Danny was so good, you could take some chances and know that he always had your back,” Harris said. “Those were some good days, some good times. It’s going to be great to see Danny again.”
Waltman’s professional indoor soccer career began in 2004 with the MISL’s Chicago Storm. After three seasons with Chicago, he logged time with the Detroit Ignition (2006-09) and the Rockford Rampage (2009-10) before signing with Missouri in 2010.
Both teams are in need of a win tonight as the Comets bring a 1-3 record into the game, while Waltman’s Stars are 2-3.
“We play the Comets Friday and then go play Milwaukee, so it’s a big weekend for our team,” Waltman said. “It’s going to be a special trip back home for me, because there are so many people I want to visit with, say hello to, and thank for all they did for me the five years I played with the Comets.
“But winning the game is the top priority.”
When asked if fans might see the iconic Waltman flip – where he runs up the glass and does a backflip after being introduced to the crowd, he just chuckled.
“The flip is retired,” said Waltman, who quit the flamboyant entrance his final year with the Comets, but added it his first season in Tacoma. “It might be nice to do one for ol’ time’s sake, but I don’t want to break my neck. I’m not a kid anymore.”