#NSCAAla Report from the Women in Soccer Symposium

The second annual Women in Soccer Symposium kicked off today in Los Angeles.

Hosted by Goal Nation, and loosely partnered with the NSCAA (National Soccer Coaches Association of America), the event was held in L.A. before the start of the annual NSCAA convention. With more than 150 participants, the event was larger than last year and participants represented many diverse fields and perspectives within U.S. soccer.

The CEO of the NSCAA, Lynn Berling-Manuel, opened the day with a presentation on recognizing the power of women.

“The way men and women look at power is different,” Berling-Manuel said. “Men tend to focus on getting people to do things while women’s emphasis is on getting things done. … Be powerful by getting things done.”

Highlights from the day included a presentation on “The Best Kept Secrets to Leadership” by Amanda Vandervort, NSCAA President and MLS Vice President of Social Media, and Emma Hayes, the Chelsea Ladies General Manager and 2016 MBE recipient.

One of the four key points of their discussion was recognizing the need to evolve: “What got us here won’t get us there.”


“Assumption is that what got us here will continue to get us to next level,” Hayes told the audience in L.A. “We need to evolve. Challenge is that humans are creatures of habit ‘why would we change if it works?’”

The symposium continued with former NSCAA President, and U.S. U23 Women’s National Team Coach, Janet Rayfield presenting on “Overcoming Gender Inequality.”

Rayfield’s use of hard data from the NCAA showed the reality that, despite the incredible growth in opportunities for girls to play since Title IX, across the U.S. and at all levels the number of women filling leadership positions remains small. In order for this to change, Rayfield asserted, there are four areas that need to be considered and addressed: equality of opportunity, equality of compensation, equality of evaluation and equality of environment.

U.S. Youth Soccer Director of Coaching Sam Snow opened his moderation of a panel on “How Women Succeed” with the statement that most hope will one day become the accepted norm: “Leadership is genderless.”

While each presenter had a different perspective, there were common themes that carried through the day. Top among them being that while there have been strides made, and increased opportunities to play, the lack of female representation is systemic.

Lesle Gallimore, University of Washington Head Coach, concisely summed it up.

“It matters that women are in the game,” Gallimore said. “How to get more women into coaching and keep them there is the million dollar question.”


Bio: Sarah, who played soccer and lacrosse in college, is a passionate supporter of sport-for-all. She relishes the opportunities and experiences soccer has provided her across the U.S. and around the globe. She is always looking for the next adventure that will expand the opportunities in sports, particularly for girls and women.  During 15 years coaching intercollegiate soccer, Sarah coached at each of the three NCAA divisions. She also worked with US Youth Soccer’s Olympic Development Program in Eastern N.Y. for eight years, serving as director of the Girls North program from 2011-2015.

Sarah is currently the Assistant Men’s Coach at Dutchess County Community College (NJCAA) and a premier and goalkeeping coach with Eastern FC a boys-only club based in Westchester, N.Y.
Follow on twitter @sdshick