Spotlight on WPSL Women’s Soccer with SoCal FC’s Alondra Hernandez
The 2017 WPSL Season is right around the corner as we prepare for another year of the women’s game reaching all regions of the United States. Southern California is hotbed for soccer with talent creeping through all communities onto the scene. Even more exciting are women owned sports teams and the WPSL leads the way with the highest number of women owned soccer teams.
While there are famous and wealthy women who own sport teams — Joan Tisch owns the New York Giants and Denise York owns the San Francisco 49ers — there are very few women owned soccer teams.
Here is a special feature on Alondra Hernandez who owns the SoCal FC.
WPSL Soccer News: The Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) is home to the largest women’s professional soccer league in the world that also includes the ranks of having the largest female ownership of any sports league.
With 16% of WPSL clubs owned by women, the growth of the game is welcoming inclusion with no gender barriers for those who aspire to work in soccer industry.
GoalNation’s Diane Scavuzzo spoke with SoCal FC Communications Coordinator and Co-Founder Alondra Hernandez on her experience in the game and the growth of women leadership in the sport.
Diane Scavuzzo: As one of the few women owners of a WPSL team, how did you first get involved in soccer?
Alondra Hernandez: I first became involved with soccer when I was 16 years old, thanks to a coach I had at that time — he was a journalist. He got me started in covering women’s soccer for a website. I was in charge of a blog on general WPS news as well as the LA Sol. I was offered me a job with a USL PDL men’s soccer team in 2010. Working there, I got to meet Charlie Naimo, who was Pali Blues’ Head Coach and General Manager of the LA Sol.
I was also pretty active on twitter in the early days of the WPS, and made some “internet friends” with other people in the world of women’s soccer.
All of that led to me looking for an opportunity with the Blues in 2011. I knew that Alyse LaHue from the Chicago Red Stars would be coming to LA to run Blues Soccer Club as GM, so I reached out to her to see how I could get involved and that was my very first start actually working for a women’s soccer club.
Diane Scavuzzo: What about you surprises people the most?
Alondra Hernandez: I think what surprises people the most is my age. I’ve done a lot more than most people my age. I’ve become used to being one of the youngest, if not the youngest, person on a front office staff of 30+ years olds.
When I first started, I was still in high school. I worked in soccer throughout my college years.
I spent years not being able to help drive the team rental van because I was under 25. I even can remember not being able to go out for victory drinks with the staff after a big win because I was too young to legally drink. It’s pretty funny looking back.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Alondra Hernandez: It has been a couple of years since my work with the Blues, but I’m still really proud of how well we did as an organization. We were constantly nominated for organizational awards by the W-League — for recognition on our operations, marketing and communications.
While the club was great on the field and a destination for some of the nation’s top talent, I was equally proud of the work we did off the field to make it a real professional organization.
I am also proud to say I’m a co-founder of SoCal FC.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why the WPSL?
Alondra Hernandez: The WPSL has long been a league that provides elite athletes a great place to play at a high level. I think it speaks volumes that NWSL reserves teams are in this league.
Thanks to the WPSL, there’s a lot of great soccer being played on summer weekends all over the nation by future professional and international stars.
We, at SoCal FC, are lucky to be in a part of the country that is overflowing with exceptional young talent, and to have schools like USC, UCLA, and Long Beach State so close that we have student athletes play for us and the WPSL provides us with the opportunity to be in a highly competitive women’s soccer league.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you think is the most challenging or infuriating thing about working as a woman in soccer?
Alondra Hernandez: In general, the most challenging aspect about working as a woman in soccer is that I have a hard time disagreeing with men, or at least saying it to them and expressing why I think something should be done a different way.
When it comes to coaching in AYSO, usually the coaches are dads, and I find that a lot of the time, they aren’t very receptive to a professional coach who happens to be a woman.
As professionals, we are hired to help the volunteer parent coaches run a practice session but some of the men don’t want help from a female coach.
They’ll seek out a male coach instead of working with a female.
Diane Scavuzzo: When did you first start coaching at AYSO? What inspires you?
Alondra Hernandez: I first started coaching in AYSO in the fall of 2014. It’s fun to coach little kids because you can really start teaching them the right way to do things early on. And it’s especially fun for me to see them practice something over and over and finally get it right. They get super thrilled.
I also love to teach goalkeeping. That’s the position I played in high school and college. I think there is a lack of good goalkeeper coaching, and I would love to focus on this more, and work with younger female goalkeepers. That would be my ideal way of making a difference and giving back.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why do you think there are fewer female coaches in both youth and collegiate soccer?
Alondra Hernandez: As long as little girls grow up with male coaches as opposed to female coaches, they’ll never really realize that they, too, can be a coach when they grow up.
It’s as if coaching almost never crosses their minds.
I see slow progress being made, but we still need more support and opportunities from the right people since they are the ones with the power to make the changes needed to close the gender gap.
Diane Scavuzzo: What can be done to encourage more women to be involved in soccer?
Alondra Hernandez: I think female athletes need female role models. More than likely, young athletes aspire to become a professional athlete, and that’s great. But more than likely, they won’t go pro. So, they need to realize that they could become a manager, or a coach, or an athletic trainer, work in sports marketing or many other parts of the soccer world.
I hate to see athletes give up their sports once their college careers or even high school careers are over.
We need more people who do things for the right reasons.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you think is the most important life lesson that you’ve learned so far?
Alondra Hernandez: The most important thing I’ve learned is to surround myself with people who are only going to lift me higher. There’s that saying about how it’s not a good thing if you are the smartest person in a room. I always like to be around people I can learn from.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are your goals for the 2017 WPSL season?
Alondra Hernandez: While it’s out of my control and up to our coach and the team he puts together, I’d love to see SoCal FC get back to the national championship again.
As far as personal goals, I would love to grow our fan base and general interest from fans of women’s soccer. I intend to improve our social media content since that’s our main way of showing off what we’re about.