FC Wisconsin is a unique club in many ways – structure, philosophy, ECNL membership, and more. But one of the biggest areas where the club stands out when compared to nearly every club in the country is the number of female coaches and leaders in the club. In 2019, FC Wisconsin has 5 women in leadership and director positions within the club:
In addition, with Chrissy Watson and Megan Aubrey also working with players from U8 – U12, more than 50% of the club’s total coaching staff are women.
“We believe that gender shouldn’t impact the quality of the teaching and learning experience in the game, and we want to insure that our players have strong, female role models that they can look up to as they grow in the sport,” said Executive Director Hayley Lavers. “We are fortunate to have fantastic coaches, and fantastic women, on our staff and we think that this diversity is great for the players and the environment.”
Youth Academy Director Joana Bromley discussed her thoughts on her coaching career and the importance of female role models:
“Growing up, there were several talented individuals and coaches, both male and female that impacted my soccer trajectory. My very first interaction with a soccer ball was in my own backyard with my older sister, someone who was an inspiration and a strong female presence throughout my life. After my obsession with the ball began my parents decided it was time to put me on a team. During that day and age, there were very few opportunities for overly competitive, ruthless, 5-year old females, so naturally my parents put me on an all-boys team. Not only was it an all-boys team, in an all-boys league, but there were no female coaches anywhere. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing like being a young girl beating up on all the boys, however, I was missing an important aspect in my soccer environment during those highly impactful youth years – a female soccer role model. I desired someone I could see myself in, someone who displayed the characteristics of a strong female, and someone who saw sport as something that would forever be a part of their life.”
Since its founding in 2012 as a girls-only soccer club, the mission of FC Wisconsin has been to raise standards for youth girls’ soccer in Wisconsin. With more than 90% of graduating players moving on to play college soccer, a location in Madison (in addition to the main campus in Germantown), and an ever-growing Youth Academy program, the club is well on the path to achieving its goal.
The club has also been working to promote and develop women’s soccer in other ways, particularly in providing opportunities for female coaches. The club has always had a strong female presence on the coaching staff – including former coaches Christina Toda (Boston University), Ally Miller (Marquette University), Madeline Vicker (Marquette University), Kate Markgraff (Olympic Gold Medalist), Leslie Deebach (UWM), and Kara Kuttler (Seattle University) – and has always believed in providing female role models for its aspiring players.
“There are many lessons that can be taught through soccer that translate off the field, highlighting the need for female role models," continued Joana Bromley. "While I agree with Megan Kahn, Executive Director of the Alliance of Women Coaches, that “leadership should know no gender,” it is clear that youth female athletes are missing female coaches and role models during their youth development. According to the University of Minnesota’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport, only 40% of female athletes are coached by women.”
At FC Wisconsin, we believe it is important for our female youth athletes to see women leading, directing, and coaching - they need effective mentors to look up to, learn from, and inspire them both on and off the soccer field.
“First and foremost, any coach in our club must have the ability and desire to teach our methodology to players across all age groups. However, it is also important to us that our players get to see and work with people who have followed a similar path and achieved success in the women’s game. The fact that many of these coaches have been former players at our club only shows the impact that the right environment can have on a young player,” said Youth Director of Coaching Andy Lee.
"In my playing career I have had two female coaches,” said Jacie Lyon. “Coaching was something I never thought I could do as a career in youth athletics until FC Wisconsin reached out to me. Not only has it been a place for me to learn, but it’s also been a place where I have had the opportunity to develop young girls who have the same goals I once had.”
“I had a great experience as a player with many of the coaches in this club, and when I got the opportunity to coach and help the next generation of players here I was really excited,” said Monica Gonyo. “I think we are building something very special for female players in Wisconsin, and I am looking forward to continuing to make our environment better and better.”
At the heart of FC Wisconsin, our core values revolve around creating an environment that encourages integrity, commitment, development, community, and accountability. During each player’s journey through the club, our highly educated coaching staff hope to instill confidence, and inspire young athletes to aspire, develop and achieve.
Thank you to all of the coaches at our club, and specially to the female coaches blazing a path in Wisconsin!