“There is no force equal to a woman determined.” – W.E.B. Dubois
It has been a stellar year for women. Women are fighting for equality in all facets of life:
sports, technology, politics, leadership and the list goes on, and their male counterparts have been supporting them. Sports is platform that rings loudly to the youth today. They are being inspired by strong women of the future. There will always be obstacles, but at this moment I can’t help but think about women’s professional soccer.
The Boston Breakers, the most historic women’s professional soccer team, has folded and now the players are being disseminated to the other 9 existing teams, creating a second draft of sorts. This is concerning because the Boston Breakers have always been a metaphor for stability throughout the history of women’s professional soccer leagues. They have been a brand for women’s soccer since the inception of professional women’s soccer leagues since 2001. The team played on Soldier’s Field at Harvard University, had previously acquired talent like Sydney Leroux, Kristine Lilly, Kristie Mewis, Kelly O’Hara, Lauren Cheney, and Meghan Klingenberg. They have been led by coaching staff such as Pia Sundhage, Tim Durkin and Matt Beard. The Boston Breakers were really a stable, competitive organization.
Lately, we have been hearing about financial worries about this club. Three weeks ago we
saw the NWSL, Coaches and young female soccer players sitting among Executives and
Media. College players were learning their fate – where they would be playing in the NWSL.
The Boston Breakers drafted Savannah McCaskill, a top collegiate player from South
Carolina. She had just received her first call up for the US Women’s National Team. After a
few dismal seasons in the NWSL, the future looked hopeful for the Boston Breakers with stars Rose Lavelle, Megan Oyster, Katie Stengel and many others headlining their roster.
So you would think with all of this history, with loyalty, that the soccer community wouldn’t lose the Breakers. Even though the floodgates didn’t open with fans, there was still that sense of intimate and approachable spectacle that in a way we were all part of…we could touch, experience and make it our own. The Breakers compete in a sport that inspires us all by showcasing the ingenuity, strength, beauty and talent of women.
The NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League), the professional umbrella the Breakers fall
under, continues to report that the league is stronger than ever, that having only 9 teams will make for more revenue. Yeah, I don’t get that. You try and contact NWSL or look on their website and their is no way to contact them, no one to speak to with a clear title. I think the NWSL needs better leadership, more sponsorship, more U.S. Soccer backing. We need Robert Kraft to take an interest and run a club like the Patriots. NWSL is the most talented women’s soccer league in the world as a whole, where international players are seeking to play in the US. We have the best women’s collegiate soccer programs – Stanford, UCLA, Duke, Princeton, providing the best education in the nation. There has to be a better way, a better plan to keep the Boston Breakers as a mainstay in the professional world of soccer.
Boston is “The city that raised me,” but I don’t live there anymore, I live in Los Angeles, a
town not loyal to the sports community, a town very divided with its vastness to so many other interests. But I will always stay true to my roots and cheer on Boston, “you’re my home” and I still feel that affinity with the East Coast. It’s those Sunday phone calls to my Dad to discuss Tom Brady, the Patriots, how we get so nervous, and then there is the phone call after filled with excitement that our team won. I shared my love of Boston teams with soccer my favorite sport, and brought my Dad to see the Breakers one beautiful summer evening, to Soldier’s Field. He took me to Fenway growing up, explained the game of baseball, and now I could share my knowledge of women’s soccer. Sharing these moments gives way to memories.
Now my dad keeps asking about the Boston Breakers, and I have to tell him Boston has
disappointed us with our soccer team, but the memories will last a lifetime. I hope that the
youth soccer clubs will continue to inspire young girls to play, watch and learn from these
strong female athletes. Maybe we will get a professional team back in Boston, but until we do I am hoping that the youth will continue to go see collegiate players all around the city. I will continue to support all women’s teams in the NWSL, WPSL and international teams.
For now, though, I’m excited to watch the women’s soccer community here in Los Angeles grow and support Mia Hamm’s promising Ladies of LAFC! There’s a saying that goes, “Grow where you’re planted” and I plan to do that right here in my adopted city. Maybe women’s soccer can take off here in the way I imagine it can and feels it deserves. This is, after all, Hollywood, where the underdog often takes center stage and steals the show.
Have you ever thought of coaching a youth soccer team, college level team, or a professional team? Is doubt getting in the way of you becoming a coach? Does the idea of entering a male dominated field hinder your ability to live your soccer lifestyle to the fullest?
No need to worry! There are tons of coaching events to help you get where you need to go.
For women who are considering coaching, events like this are a great opportunity to learn what it’s really like be a soccer coach at any level. These events give women the opportunity to pursue leadership and coaching roles. Women’s soccer is growing. And with that growth, there are many organizations out there paving the way by offering opportunities for all and providing great resources. It just takes a bit of research.
United Soccer Coaches is one of the best and most diverse coaches associations nationwide. Their mission is to try and inspire coaches through their programs while providing support. They offer many resources for various levels of coaching whether you are a novice, a club level coach, or a leader in your community.
Open Training WeekUnited Soccer Coaches hosted Open Training Week from April 2-8 in cities across the country. A total of 176 teams hosted these trainings. Nearly 1,200 coaches were in attendance. This event allowed coaches of all ages and levels the opportunity to experience new coaching styles and different kinds of play. These sessions provided some great recommendations for coaches when it comes to running practices and setting up their own daily practice plans. Any coach, at any level has a set plan for a training day. But depending on players’ feedback or energy levels, a coach must be ready to shift gears to get the best out of their players that day. The highlight of this casual, open practice within the community was to be able to observe high-level training sessions and learn from them. There is a lot of theory involved in coaching soccer. But, nothing compares to hand-on training.
Earlier this month, men’s and women’s teams at the college and professional levels welcomed local soccer coaches to visit men’s and women’s college teams at 176 cities across the nation.
As a novice coach, I appreciate these open practice sessions.I went to USC (University of Southern California) which is fairly close to my home. I was very interested in getting out to their stadium and meeting their coach. McAlister Field at USC is an intimate place to watch the game of soccer. It’s not a big stadium for a huge number of students and alumni, but this allows you to really see the game. USC Women’s Soccer team won the NCAA Championship 2 years ago and they continue to play at the highest level. Coach Keidane McAlpine and his Women’s soccer team led the coaches through a training session. We got a bird’s eye view of how these athletes communicate on the field, and got a sense of the intensity of practice, even though it’s offseason. After the warm-up, the Coach came over and asked for questions, and as practice moved on to small sided games and eventually the game itself, the Coach came took us through each process. This was the most valuable coaching session I have ever been to, seeing the players respond to the different intensity of the practice, and hear what the coach was looking to get out of these women for the 2-hour practice. Also, Coach McAlpine touched upon his recruitment process and NCAA rules and regulations that these women athletes need to adhere to while playing in college.
Dominique Randall, a USC grad currently playing for the NWSL Utah Royals reserves, joined her old Coach in the training discussion after the practice. What was so interesting was the Coach telling us that Randall was highly aware that she lacked technical skills of the game like some others in her league, but what she lacked in technical skills, she made up for with her attitude on and off the field, her tenacity, energy aggressiveness on the pitch, her confidence and leadership with her team. As he explained, Coaches need to instill an environment where players can excel in different approaches to the game and fit the dynamic of the team.
United Soccer Coaches is a great resource in for coaching education, networking, job opportunities, and more. Many amazing coaches and mentors are affiliated with this organization and want to share their knowledge of the game of soccer and principles of coaching. We are all learning every day, and it is important to encourage, motivate and mentor. Pass it on!