GAINING THE EDGE: Dawn Scott on Being a Women in the Soccer World
Special Interview with Dawn Scott / WNT Fitness Coach & Sport Performance Director
U.S. Soccer Women’s National Team Fitness Coach and Sports Performance Director is Dawn Scott. Inspired by a great passion for the beautiful game and a mind focused on how to maximize performance through sports science, Scott is a remarkable woman in the world of soccer. Scoring loyalty on both sides of the Atlantic for giving her athletes an edge in a highly competitive game, Scott is a beacon of creativity, ingenuity, and dedication for her peers as well as those younger.
Related Soccer News: GAINING THE EDGE: Dawn Scott on The Power & Impact of Sport Science
Here are Scott thoughts on being a women in the world of soccer ….
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you think is the most challenging or infuriating thing about working as a women in soccer?
Dawn Scott: I feel this is a less of an issue in the U.S., perhaps due to popularity of women’s soccer, number of female players and the success of the US Women’s National Team on the World stage.
It is definitely more prevalent in England, especially where soccer is more male dominated, and other than physiotherapists you don’t really see many females working in male professional clubs.
There are an increasing number of female officials and commentators in England now, who I feel are scrutinized more so than their male counterparts. However, I feel that with an increasing number of females in those roles, there appears to be less issues/hostility and it is becoming more common and accepted, with an increasing number of opportunities for females to be involved in the game.
I have taught on coaching courses in England and USA where all (and/or the majority) of the candidates are male. It can feel intimidating, however I rise to that challenge, but it is important to be confident in yourself.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do female coaches face any special challenges?
Dawn Scott: In the USA, there are more females involved in soccer at the higher level, and there are some very good role models especially in coaching — Jill Ellis, Laura Harvey, Erica Walsh, Amanda Cromwell to name a few. although obviously in the NWSL there is only one female head coach.
However, I don’t always feel it is a case of a female not being appointed, but more are females interested and/or have enough experience in those roles?
There is a similar situation in England, where Emma Hayes is the only female coach working in the WSL.
I think we need to determine if good female coaches are not getting the opportunities or if there are not enough female coaches good enough with the right experience or qualifications for those opportunities?
The latter then leads to how can we improve the what are we doing in terms of coach education, mentoring and the opportunity to become involved in soccer.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you think a women’s college soccer team should be coached by a women?
Dawn Scott: Not necessarily, I feel that it should be the best person for the job – qualifications and experience should be the main considerations. But if that is the case, I feel that some of the technical coaching team should include a female, and is that a potential way of getting more females involved and setting up more of a mentoring program.
Diane Scavuzzo: What traits does a female coach need to survive and thrive?
Dawn Scott: I feel that first and foremost, like any career path in life, having the relevant qualifications and experience are the same regardless of gender. For me, experience and application of your qualifications are crucial.
We all did voluntary work at some point on our journeys and for me that is when you lay the foundations for where you ultimately want to get to.
Communication skills for interaction with coaches, support staff and players is also a vital element, and again those skills can be developed by gaining experience and dealing with a range of players and coaches.
After that, as it is typical that there are more males involved in soccer, I personally feel that I need to be more confident in myself and believe in my abilities to do the role.
I also feel that I have developed a resilient outlook which in turn breeds confidence.
Diane Scavuzzo: What needs to change so that more female coaches can make it?
Dawn Scott: Providing the opportunity for coaches to grow and learn in non-threatening environments, encompassing re-enforcement and assurance. Coupled with that, continuing to show and publicize female role models who are working in a variety of roles in soccer, showing that females do and can work in soccer.
This is something that USSF is doing very well with the US WNT players, and that alone inspires others to be involved in women’s soccer.
Diane Scavuzzo: What can be done to encourage more girls to dream big — and to perhaps make a life in the soccer world?
Dawn Scott: Continuing to increase the exposure of females competing in national team and NWSL games, which with the recent NWSL TV announcement deal on A&E Lifetime, girls can now watch female games every week.
All of the NWSL games in the past have been on You Tube and the majority of U.S. WNT games are on TV, so girls now have the chance to watch a lot of soccer.
Additionally, the exposure of other role models/females working in soccer, encompassing all roles possible such as coaching, fitness coaches/sport scientists, physical therapists, press officers, social media, commentators, officials, etc. so that whatever career pathway a girl is considering they can see that may be possible in soccer, and not just as a player.
Look at Amanda Vandervort — Vice President of CRM and Social Media at Major League Soccer — another amazing role model and example of the opportunities that are available for females in soccer if you are that driven and passionate about being involved.
Diane Scavuzzo: You have worked for two women Head Coaches for the U.S. Women’s National team. Pia Sundhage was the head coach when you first joined U.S. Soccer and now it is Jill Ellis — is there a big difference working with the team?
Dawn Scott: Any successful coach has their own unique qualities, traits and philosophy of how soccer should be played – if every coach was the same, it would be pretty boring!
Pia and Jill both have their own preferences in terms of the type of training, drills, and methods on how to prepare individual players and the team. Both coaches fully embraced the sport science and the impact it can have on the physical preparation for the team and the individual players — and both of them have pushed me to continue to learn and be better at the role I do.