Houston Dash News

Jake Smookler | SeatGeek Member of the Match


“I’m originally from the island of Maui, Hawaii. That’s where I lived for 20 plus years of my life. For me, I've always been a huge fan of Texas sports teams and everything. So, once I heard Houston was getting a NWSL team going, I was like this a team I could follow.”

Jake Smookler has been a proud Houston Dash fan since the team’s inception in 2014. Born and raised on the islands of Hawaii with Korean heritage, Smookler has always found a connection with Texas sports teams, beginning in 2006 when Jake found out Hawaiian native Brian Ching was on the Houston Dynamo roster. When the Dash came along, it was a no-brainer. What made it better, however, was the Hawaiian roots that began to take place within the organization.


After retiring from professional soccer, Ching came on as managing director. Kealia Ohai, a forward with Hawaiian roots on her father’s side, was the club’s first-ever NWSL Draft pick. The connections only grew from there, and it was easy for Jake to grow his fandom as someone who is so deeply connected with his heritage.

However, his love of women’s soccer went back much farther than the Dash. It started on the international stage.

“My support of women's football goes quite a long way. I was flipping through random channels back in 2007, and then that's when I noticed that the World Cup was on for women. It was England versus Japan, and it's like, okay, so we have a World Cup going on. Let's see how this goes. Just seeing how England and Japan battled it out on the women's side especially, I just got reeled in.”


Throughout the seasons, Jake would plan out trips to Houston all the way from Maui to catch a Dash game. Houston became a frequent destination for the native Hawaiian, who explored the city when he wasn’t cheering on the Houston Dash at Shell Energy Stadium. He even became a season ticket holder in 2018 despite living in Hawaii.

“And back in 2018, after attending my two home games here, I really fell in love with the Houston area along with the rest of the team, and the fan base. When I left, I really felt like I left a piece of my heart here. I needed to get it back. Houston has my heart.”


Jake packed his life up and moved to the mainland in 2019, moving to north Houston where he’s been ever since. At every game, you can find Jake standing in the supporter section waving his custom-made Dash-colored Texas flag, leading chants and making friends with fans all match long.

Jake’s current favorite Dash players are Makamae Gomera-Stevens and Caprice Dydasco, two AAPI players that he feels connected to. For Jake, it’s the pieces of home and his roots that keep me grounded on the mainland and in soccer.

“For me, as a whole, Houston in general, they've done an awesome job of blending the two cultures together - football culture and AAPI culture. It brings me a lot of pride to see Houston kept the AAPI community in their heads and hearts going all the way back. We're bringing a lot of pride and joy to support this club as a whole. Not only the Houston Dash, but the Houston Dynamo football club as a whole.”


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