On Oct. 1, the players of Elizabethtown College’s women’s soccer team attended a class that was not on anyone’s schedule at the beginning of the semester. Joined by Head Coach Amy Hough and Assistant Coach Natalie Hoober, the team kickstarted their potential coaching careers with an All-Female Coaching Course.
“Fifth percent or sometimes more, depending on where you’re at, of schools have female players,” Hough said. “Therefore, they should have female role models. It’s so important to get more females in the game. Even at the grassroots level, having females that young girls can look up to in those coaching roles, it helps in that development process.”
Gary Stephenson, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Associations’ Director of Soccer Development and Performance echoed Hough’s remarks.
“Looking at the make-up of our players, about 50 percent male and 50 percent female,” Stephenson said. “Then look at the make-up of the coaches, it is certainly not the same. We need more female coaches as role models for our female players.”
The players gathered in the bleachers next to Ira R. Herr Field for the first portion of the course. They discussed different approaches to coaching, how to structure practices and when to let players take the lead.
Stephenson compared constructing practice session plans to a teacher’s lesson plans. For senior midfielder Angela Carcella – an education major -- the course offered things that she could also use in the classroom.
“I really enjoy the new knowledge I have, and I can actually really relate it to education,” Carcella said. “We talked about session plans and lesson plans. I loved it, I thought it was great for myself as a future teacher and as a future coach.”
Already coaching youth soccer, she added that learning about different styles of coaching will help her develop her own philosophy and style.
Following the “classroom” portion of the course, the team transitioned to the field to put what they learned into practice.
Players had the opportunity to set up exercises and coach their teammates through them. Occasionally, they would pause to hear more information from Stephenson, like how and when to stop a drill and how to adjust it if the drill is too complicated.
“I certainly hope they have a new perspective of what coaches have to go through,” Hough said. “Not just the games and practice planning, but also the leadership development, the relationships that are built through coaching and how to develop players not just as a player, but holistically as a person.”