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From the Pitch - Press On

By Staff, 03/31/22, 11:30AM EDT


Press On

Author - Julie Carlson
Julie Carlson
Head Coach & Technical Director, Greenville Liberty
March 31, 2022

Like most of us, I developed my love for soccer from a young age.

It was a vehicle for me to make friends, to grow as a person and to be challenged. I’ve always been one to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth. As I continued to grow as a player, so did my love for the game. I played at a high level in North Texas and, through that, got the opportunity to play collegiately for a Division I program.

Mostly due to injuries and the lack of a professional pathway for women like there is now, my playing career was pretty short, but it set me up for a future in the game nonetheless.

Women’s soccer was greatly bolstered by the inception of Title IX, with more women’s programs being established. I was fortunate to get my first Division I coaching job at 22 years old. There was a need for coaches in the women’s game who were willing to invest not only in the individual development of a player, but also youth sports overall. So, my chapter as a player ended and I began a new one as a coach.

When I started coaching roughly 25 years ago, there were not many other women coaching. That became a motivating factor, a challenge. I needed to learn how to wheel and deal in that environment. No matter how good or bad an experience is, I always aim to learn from it.

Did I have some bad experiences working in some male-dominated environments? Yes.

Did I have some great experiences in male-dominated environments? For sure.

Did I face adversity being the only female? Definitely.

And by navigating through that, I learned a lot.

There are now a lot more opportunities for women coaches. Opportunities to be mentored, learn and grow, which is something we didn’t have back in the 90s.

Now, as the Head Coach and Technical Director of Greenville Triumph’s USL W League team, it’s important to me to be a role model and provide others with mentorship and a safe space. Off the field, I want my players to understand the value of relationships, networking and communication and how those all impact what they do on the field. What happens off the pitch can stay with you on the pitch and vice versa. It’s important to understand and embrace that.

At the end of the day, this is something bigger than just me. It’s more than a single coach or player - it’s about trying to kick start a love for something special within this community.

When you’re building something as special as this, you must get it right. It does not have to be perfect, but when you’re building a foundation for the community, you’ve got to get it as close as possible. That is what creates sustainability.

As a coach, you never want to fail. But I have. I have failed a triumphant portion of the last 25 years of my coaching career. But with that failure, I have become better, and so the players will be better for it, and the system will be better for it.

I’m proud of overcoming all the trials and tribulations that got me to where I am today. I don’t look back. I learn from my experiences and press on.

I hope young girls identify with what we’re building here in Greenville, and feel like they’re a part of it. We want them wearing the jerseys and cheering at the matches. We want them to share the energy and passion when watching these women play. We want to put a product on the field that they’re excited about and want to keep coming back to watch.

I am very humbled. When I take a step back and see the passion behind the response of my head coaching announcement with the Greenville Triumph, it's had a profound impact on me.

To be at the helm of this mission is scary, but also extremely humbling. Most of all, it’s another opportunity to grow. I can promise our community in Greenville that I’m all in, and I hope you’re along for the ride.

From The Pitch aims to provide a platform for individuals within the USL to share their thoughts on things that matter most to them – at the crossroads of life and the beautiful game. USL partner Bellevue University is committed to empowering motivated students to explore their passions, impact change in their communities and chase their dreams.

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