Privett, fellow former players benefit from free coaching course at U.S. Soccer | Sports

Privett, fellow former players benefit from free coaching course at U.S. Soccer | Sports

While some sports leagues offer a straightforward path from playing to coaching, that’s never quite been the case in the National Women’s Soccer League.

Case in point: the league began the 2021 season with men coaching nine of its 10 teams. It’s a gender disparity that has become increasingly controversial as male coaches have been fired after reports of sexist harassment and sexual abuse, and it’s part of what fuels the NWSL’s partnership with U.S. Soccer and the NWSL Players Association to get more current and former players in the pipeline to becoming coaches.

In essence, the partnership gives qualified players the opportunity to get coaching licenses for free. In 2018 and 2019, cohorts of current players convened for in-person sessions separated by an eight-week at-home training period in order to earn their C Licenses, which allow for youth coaching up to age 18 in a “participation environment.” Now, U.S. Soccer is conducting its first B License training, the next level up, through an asynchronous online course for 24 current and former players.

“It’s exciting to see women take advantage of the opportunity to get into the coaching profession from playing,” said Karla Thompson, lead educator for the course, “because it can allow them to take that information and that experience that they have from playing immediately into coaching.”

One beneficiary of this program is Cami Privett. A Bakersfield native and 2011 All-Area Player of the Year at Frontier High School, Privett played six professional seasons with the Houston Dash primarily as a midfielder, winning the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup along the way. She got some coaching experience during a brief retirement in 2018, took the C course in 2019 and is now enrolled in the B course, which runs through December.

“Soccer has been my life forever,” Privett said, “and with coaching, it still is my life. … It’s not like it’s been a hard stop.”

The Dash waived Privett in August, though she said she was probably going to have 2021 be her last year anyway. Privett said her ultimate goal is to return to the NWSL as a head coach (or coach in an overseas professional league), though she relishes youth coaching as well.

“If I can improve the youth game,” she said, “I can affect the college game, I can affect the professional game, because it only goes up from there.”

Coursework consists primarily of Privett videotaping herself coaching games and training sessions, and receiving feedback from instructors. She said one key lesson she’s learned is the importance of instilling core values in a team to help foster a cohesive culture. Hers are “resilience, ambition and integrity.”

She said she does miss how in-person classes allowed teachers, if they saw her making mistakes, to “nip it in the bud real quick.”

“If I’m here, and I just send in a video, it’s too late,” she said. “I’ve already done whatever I did, and it’s really easy to make bad habits that way.”

Didier Chambaron, U.S. Soccer’s director of coaching education, said the organization wants to get skilled candidates in the pipeline but has a lot to teach them along the way: “We want to retain these people, but first of all we want to inform them what it’s all about. It’s a different job.”

Of course, the dynamics of these courses are unlike any others at U.S. Soccer, and it’s not just because all the students are professional players who can have higher-level tactical discussions.

“Rarely do we have all-female courses outside of the professional realm,” Thompson said. “So our conversations tend to be a little bit different than in a normal course.”

Privett said that the course provides a built-in network at a time where she’s trying to transition to a different phase of life.

“It’s nice to be able to call some of these people who weren’t necessarily your friends before, but now you know that they have similarities and are able to make connections with (them),” she said. “A lot of people are going through very similar things in our lives.”

This breaks down one of three barriers to getting women into coaching that Thompson said the course helps address: financial issues, networking and — what she said she faced herself growing up — a lack of role models.

“You can see it all across different industries,” she said, “where you see people saying, ‘If I can see it, I can be it.’”

Some graduates of these U.S. Soccer courses have already moved on to high-level coaching jobs. For example, B course enrollee Bev Yanez got hired on Aug. 31 as an assistant at NJ/NY Gotham FC. She did plenty of coaching during her playing career and served as director of coaching at Juventus Academy in Redwood City, but she felt something was missing.

“It’s my passion for the women’s game, and more particularly my passion for the NWSL,” she said. “When this opportunity presented itself I was ecstatic because I felt like that passion was kind of reignited.”

For Privett, success stories like that of Yanez, who called the opportunity to work with and be taught by women “really empowering,” provide a key example of the course’s success.

“​In my head, I’m like, ‘That’s a goal that I can physically reach,’” Privett said. “It makes it more enticing. Now I’m able to have conversations a little bit easier, and not feel like I’m kind of outreaching my bounds.”

Reporter Henry Greenstein can be reached at 661-395-7374. Follow him on Twitter: @HenryGreenstein.

Credit: Source link