Recap of Women In Soccer 2017 Symposium — Held the day before the NSCAA Convention
The second annual Women In Soccer Symposium concluded last week as attendees joined an afternoon and evening of discussion and networking ahead of the NSCAA Convention. The topics of power, resiliency and accountability were discussed as the push for women’s soccer remains on the minds of everyone wishing to grow the beautiful game.
Women In Soccer News: Many of the most well-known soccer minds gathered in Los Angeles the day prior to the kickoff of the 2017 NSCAA Convention for Women In Soccer 2017 — an afternoon packed full of speakers — all dedicated to developing inclusion on the women’s side of the game. With an overall estimated 170 attendees, Women In Soccer 2017 was highly successful.
Women In Soccer 2017 featured Lynn Berling-Manuel, Louise Waxler, Lesle Gallimore, Janet Rayfield, Anson Dorrance, Jeff Plush, Kevin Payne, Amanda Vandervort, Emma Hayes, Dawn Scott, Rachel Van Hollenbeke, Sam Snow, Christian Lavers, John Motta, Rosalie Kramm, Caitlin Carducci, Keith Tozer, Duncan Riddle, Jerry Zanelli, Amanda Cromwell, Evelyn Gill, Karla Thompson, Lisa Cole, Heather Dyche, Jene Baclawski, Jenny Blakley — all coming together to help create change.
The goal of Women In Soccer 2017 was to create awareness and change as the interactive symposium sparked discussions on providing women with a pathway to expand their role in the sport. Trailblazers in women’s soccer spoke on their personal journeys. Top CEOs and legendary college coaches recommended steps for providing more opportunities for women in the world of soccer. It seemed that everyone agreed that grit — the new trendy term for strength and determination — is needed to bring about change.
It is clear that everyone must take action on and off the pitch for the game to reach gender equality.
The attending speakers addressed the need to not only fight for equality in the boardroom, but also to inspire the next generation to pursue positions in the game.
A labor of love to help bring about change — this unique event does not pay speaker fees nor cover costs of travel accommodations — those who work on the event are not paid. The event is sponsored by companies and associations who realize their ability to help bring about change are offset by contributions. NSCAA, Surf Cup Sports, Cal North and Next Wave were high level sponsors — making this event possible.
Score and Nike contributed significantly with merchandise for each attendee, SportPins donated the Trailblazer Awards, Presidio Soccer League, USASA, NWSL and other sponsors helped pick up other various costs, while other sponsors donating giveaways and assisted with marketing efforts. “It was an amazing effort and everyone I spoke to agreed to help donate what they could to make Women In Soccer 2017 possible,” said Diane Scavuzzo who organized the event with event co-director Louise Waxler and the help of Rebeka Beteivaz and Sahar Milani.
2017 Women In Soccer Recap
Lynn Berling-Manuel, CEO of the NSCAA, opened up the event as she returned for her second year speaking on the growth and empowerment of women in soccer. With a keynote on RECOGNIZING THE POWER OF WOMEN, she discussed the question of power and some memorable moments during her journey of becoming CEO of the NSCAA.
Berling-Manuel told the audience that men and women view power differently — acknowledging that women need to define power in their own way.
Berling-Manuel kicked the event off with a spark by pushing women to reclaim their power and giving a new definition to the sometimes dreadful word, B*TCH. As an acronym, the first letter stands with the word – b*tch, while the remaining letters include: inspire, team, collaboration and humor.
“If you’re going to own your power in our sport or in life, you have to be willing to go there,” said Berling-Manuel.
“Women need to help each other be powerful,” said Berling-Manuel.
Amanda Vandervort, President of the NSCAA and Vice President of Social Media for Major League Soccer, and Emma Hayes, Manager of Chelsea Ladies FC, followed Berling-Manuel with a powerful session on THE BEST KEPT SECRETS TO LEADERSHIP.
The four points the pair addressed include:
- What got us here, won’t get us there.
- If it’s not broken, break it.
- Create a culture of accountability.
- Stay true to the guiding principles.
“There is the assumption that what got you to a certain point will get you to the next, but it’s so crucial to evolve,” said Hayes.
Eloquently, Vandervort highlighted the importance of self-realization and always learning. Confiding that she has benefited from a leadership coach herself, Vandervort explained that all individuals should include their peers and colleagues in their growth.
The four-person panel with USWNT Fitness Coach & Sport Performance Director Dawn Scott, Arizona Youth Soccer Association Assistant Technical Director Karla Thompson, Papua New Guinea U20 WNT head coach Lisa Cole and UCLA women’s head coach Amanda Cromwell highlighted the need to be assertive in your position.
Janet Rayfield, University of Illinois head coach and U.S. Soccer’s U23 head coach for 2015/16, provided a statistical analysis of the challenges women face in taking leadership and administration roles within the game — highlighting the fact that today the percentage of women coaching collegiate soccer is lower than before Title IX. The number of positions held by women has actually dropped horrifically.
“A gender diverse staff is the best staff,” said Rayfield.
Rayfield also discussed the necessity of political pressure to generate change and that women are often afraid to fail — and need support to acknowledge that failure is okay and a necessary part of success. “We don’t fail very well,” said Rayfield. “We have to fail better and be braver.”
The next speaker welcomed Rosalie Kramm, one of the first professional female soccer referees and founder of The Futbol Factory. Kramm told her remarkable story of beginning her career as a youth referee when organized girl’s soccer was not available in San Diego. She graduated high school with over $35,000 saved and would eventually start her own court reporting company.
“They wanted me to fail,” said Kramm. “I had to say that they’re the crazy ones.”
When Kramm described her putting on a strong front on the field, she clarified that she secretly was terrified inside but had to step up in order to retain her credibility as an official. Kramm explained she sacrificed her female side to become ‘androgynous’ to handle coaches, players and also parents screaming at her when she made a call on the field. “I used to walk referees to their car because they wouldn’t hit a girl,” said Kramm.
The packed afternoon also had an informative session on social media with Jenny Blakley, Digital Media Manager for LA Galaxy, Emily Burds, Marketing Coordinator for the NSCAA, and Alondra Hernandez, Communications Coordinator of SoCal FC (WPSL). Blakley gave tips on what creates impactful posts and how the messaging needs to be different for posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“The more we can support women in the game and have men support us too, the better off we will be,” said Burds. “I was really pleased to see how many men there were in the audience. That really gave me a good sense of hope seeing men that want women to get more involved and to hear our perspective. You don’t see that a lot in other sports. Soccer is very unique in that sense.”
Sam Snow, US Youth Soccer Director of Coaching, led the next panel discussing the male perspective. This section of the symposium included Professional Futsal League Commissioner and head coach of the U.S. Futsal National Team Keith Tozer, WPSL Commissioner Jerry Zanelli and President of the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) John Motta.
Lesle Gallimore, University of Washington women’s head coach, spoke on the road ahead for the growth of women in the game. Gallimore highlighted her empowered takeaways from last year’s event and her dedication to hold herself accountable to what she preached. Gallimore discussed the importance of women gaining more high-level coaching positions.
In a more stern way of pressing the issue, Gallimore told the room when her colleagues call to ask her for a recommendation, she would swiftly question who would be on their coaching staff. If the staff would be all male, she would be direct with them — letting them know this would be a problem for her.
The following session included a 1-on-1 discussion with Scavuzzo and NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush on the growth of the professional women’s league now entering its 5th season.
Turning to Plush, Scavuzzo said, “You’ve really given girls something to dream about. A chance to wake up in the morning and be young — hit the field and realize they can become a professional player in our country. Thank you so much.”
Plush admitted that he would like to see the NWSL have a woman commissioner in the future.
USASA Executive Director Duncan Riddle led a panel discussing how we can achieve gender equality through reshaping perceptions.
The panel welcomed ECNL President Christian Lavers, University of New Mexico head coach Heather Dyche, South Texas Youth Soccer Assistant Director of Coaching Jene Baclawski, New Jersey Youth Soccer President Evelyn Gill and United States Soccer Federation Manager of Player Services Caitlin Carducci.
Kevin Payne, US Club Soccer CEO, began winding down the afternoon in a 1-on-1 discussion with Scavuzzo addressing the need for change. Payne told everyone that he believes it is an all boys network; however, it is not overt. Payne also reminded the audience that these gender challenges are not unique to the sport of soccer.
Payne cited the necessity for women to remain resilient through the process of achieving gender equality — urging them to keep banging on doors and searching for those positions they can thrive in.
“We not only have to acknowledge the situation, but actually search for solutions,” said Payne.
Anson Dorrance, University of North Carolina women’s head coach, closed out Women In Soccer 2017 with an inspirational speech which echoed Meryl Streep’s during the Golden Globes — adding a call for everyone to work together to grow soccer in America.
“I am not worried about our game. We are all feeling the pressure of trying to stay on top of the world, while the world closes that gap at every level,” said Dorrance.
“While all the others are at war with each other and are pointing fingers at the other platforms of player development claiming they are not following best practices — the youth, college game, pro leagues and national/technical directors — are all feeling let down by the groups feeding into them,” said Dorrance.
Martin Luther King Jr once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Dorrance asked what is the solution to our girls’ growth? Questioning the difference between the Girls’ Development Academy (DA) and the ECNL besides the substitution rule — Dorrance asked, “Is there a magic box of ideas we have never heard of?”
Dorrance went on to discuss his tenure as head coach of the USWNT by highlighting the press conference following our first FIFA Women’s World Cup title in 1991. He commented on the shock of the press that the United States were crowned champions in the sport of soccer. They questioned the team’s training tactics and origins of play, but were silenced when he mapped out his own personal background that began with his birth in Mumbai, India.
“I was proud to be an American,” Dorrance told the crowd. “I was proud to be a product of our coaching system and to be a world champion. Coaching the United States was not a game for me. It was a revenge for every insult and punch I had felt growing up. Now I can feel us going back there and not being respected for whatever part of the game we are involved in. I love Lynn’s description of the kind of power great women leaders yield – in getting things done.”
“The leaders in this room are the equivalent of the principled press noted by Meryl Streep. We need to hold power to account,” said Dorrance.
“Call them to the carpet during every outrage, because isn’t it a privilege to be involved in this incredible game together. Let me stress together, because the last time I checked we were okay. We are reigning world champions.”
What did attendees think of the event?
“I think it’s confirming that we need to be intentional in recruiting and empowering women to see that coaching is a viable profession,” said Colette Montgomery of Edina Soccer Club. “Then, giving women the tools and equipping them to do the job successfully.”
“What I’m hearing today is that our job may not be so much recruiting but empowering at the younger levels,” said Melanie Seiser, National Sales Center Manager of the MLS.
“The Women In Soccer event was exceptional. It was very informative and helpful for the direction of women’s soccer. We were able to meet many people with the same conviction and together further women’s game,” said Guy Arnone, President & Co-Founder, SoCal FC.
Editorial Note: Updated 1.18.17 at 11 AM