Taking ‘Pride’ Via Hockey

Monday’s home rematch against Dallas is Kraken’s second annual Pride Night game, featuring re-imagined Kraken warmup jerseys, related swag and a Ballard watch party — by Bob Condor

When Simson Chantha was in fifth grade, he and his siblings were playing “broom guitars” in their “Scottish rock ‘n’ roll band” called the Scotch Tapes. Chantha’s broom doubled as a hockey stick, inspired by the original “Mighty Ducks ” movies.

After a southern California childhood, Chanta moved to Seattle to pursue a career as an artist and creative director. Chantha met friends who took him to Western Hockey League Seattle Thunderbirds games, during which he fell head over heels for the sport after watching it in person.

In November 2021, lifelong Seattleite Jen Barnes was searching for a sports bar showing the OL Reign’s semifinal match in the National Women’s Soccer League playoffs. She wasn’t successful.

“I lost my patience that one particular day,” said Barnes, who grew up rowing and racing for Green Lake Crew. “The Reign were either going to the championship or they’re done for the year, which was a big deal. None of the soccer pubs were even showing the game. I just decided it was time to do something about it.”

jen barnes at rough and tumbleJen Barnes at Rough & Tumble

That “something” is Barnes’ recently opened Rough & Tumble Pub in Ballard with a distinct intention to air women’s sports on the multitude of screens in the pub, including the main 120-inch screen. On Friday afternoon last week, customers were watching the NCAA women’s indoor track and field championships and a gymnastics meet was among the choices.

Barnes is just as intentional about the customers who gather at Rough & Tumble. She welcomes all sports fans of all ages (she calls her establishment a sports pub rather than a sports bar to indicate girls and boys and families have a place). She hosts watch parties for the Ladies of the Kraken Facebook group (“so fun”). Barnes’ hospitality and women’s sports enthusiasm has “organically” attracted customers from the LGTBQ+ community.

“The queer community is a deep part of the sports community,” said Barnes. “In doing something for women and sports together, the pub kind of naturally became a place of information for a lot of the people in the queer world.

I think any time there’s a human being who’s willing to invest her own time and money to create a space that is actively seeking and advocating for equality of any kind, it resonates across groups. I would not call Rough & Tumble a gay bar or lesbian bar, per se. I have worked to make sure everybody feels welcome here.”

pride kraken hife jersey

All of which brings together Simson Chantha, Jen Barnes and the rest of us to share in celebrating Pride Night presented by Symetra on Monday at Climate Pledge Arena. Before facing Dallas for the second time in three days, Kraken players will be wearing warmup jerseys designed by Chantha and to be signed by players for auction to raise funds for Greater Seattle Business Association, an LGBTQ+ chamber of commerce.

Across town, Barnes will be queueing up the Kraken game on that 120-inch main screen in honor of the LGBTQ+ celebration. She highlights access to women’s sports but says “we play everything here” so fans can watch a variety of games on her pub’s screens during a busy sports season.

Chantha is still in awe of being asked to re-imagine the Kraken “S” primary mark, anchor design and lettering/numbering of the team jersey.

“I was in a state of shock, doing something this big at this scale for our hometown hockey team,” said Chantha, who is associate creative director for Oracle and has previously worked on numerous big-name brand campaigns. “I never would have imagined this opportunity entering my life and especially one so important to LGBTQ+.”

For the “S” and overall feel of the jersey design, Chantha conjured a theme “holding on to each other” in pursuit of together. The “S” features eight hands in flow and he uses progressive pride flag colors for lettering and numbering to create a full rainbow across the backs of the jerseys.

kraken pride jersey. back and side

The progressive pride colors borrow from the traditional pride flag palette along with colors that represent people of color and people who identify as transgender, gender nonconforming, and/or undefined. In the anchor logo, Simson presents the hands coming together to form a simple heart, a universal expression of love.  

“We’re all intertwined, whether we’re LGBTQ+ or from a different community, different sets of beliefs. I was thinking about a good symbol in which we can hold each other and support one another. Hands are a symbol of giving, taking, helping or even if you put the hand into a fist, it’s symbolic of protesting or uprising. The hands represent our commonality and I think invite allies to feel part of the [Kraken Pride Night] too.

While Jen Barnes and her staff with be serving the full Rough & Tumble menu featuring the Reignstorm Burger (clever), the Title IX Banh Mi (represent!) and The Bird (fried chicken sandwich named after you-know-who), Kraken fans attending will get to see Chantha and his jerseys first-hand. Plus, fans will be listening to the Seattle Men’s Chorus perform the national anthem, honoring Pride Foundation during the first-period 32 Unity Fund presentation and watching a first-intermission shooting involving youth representing Seattle Pride Hockey Association among other pride-centric moments.

“I don’t know what to expect that [Monday] night,” said Chantha, laughing gently, “other than be there, see everyone and experience it.”