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NorCal coaches learn from USWNT staff


With 16,425 screaming fans packed into the sparkling new Avaya Stadium in San Jose, the United States women’s national soccer team’s 8-1 friendly victory over Romania Thursday again proved Northern California’s strong credentials for hosting top-level games in our passionate soccer community.

But for a select few NorCal Premier Soccer coaches, the game represented more than just a celebration of the sport — it was also an opportunity to learn from the best, consistent with NorCal’s drive to constantly educate its coaches.

With the stands empty roughly 24 hours before the match, USWNT head coach Jill Ellis and assistant coaches Tony Gustavsson and Dave Chesler, previously the director of US Soccer’s coaching education department, took 20 NorCal coaches through a coaching “chalk talk” followed by the team’s regular pre-match training session.

“The coaching seminar was very insightful as to the work and preparation the USWNT staff does to compete at the highest level,” said Amy Gerace, a Mustang Soccer Club coach who also heads the CSU East Bay women’s soccer program. “In addition to the information, watching the team prepare for the match against Romania was incredible.

“I left feeling an increased amount of pride and respect for the USWNT program,” Gerace added. “These amazing athletes and coaches represent not only our love for the game, but are role models for women and girls of all ages. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to attend and am thankful to those that helped organize the event.”

Made up of an assortment of the members of NorCal’s women’s committee, local college coaches and local youth coaches, the contingent of instructors eagerly listened to a wide variety of topics covered by Ellis and Co.

uswnt-coaching-chalk-talk-1Among the coaching aspects discussed were the short and long term player and team objectives for the USWNT, how to best structure training sessions by using key goals, how to define key performance indicators and how to best prepare for matches, followed by a short Q & A.

After the lecture, the coaches stuck around for Ellis’ full-length practice which included a one-hour prep session followed by warm-ups, technical passing drills while goalkeepers worked on their own, a tight-space possession game, final third passing and finishing drills, a small-sided scrimmage and, finally, a cool down.

“What an awesome coaching education experience put on by NorCal and the USWNT coaching staff,” said Rozie DeWeese, the girls U14-U19 director for Union Sacramento FC. “The USWNT assistant coaches were genuinely interested in sharing their knowledge and philosophies with us. They provided excellent insight into women’s soccer at the highest level.

“I loved watching the team train — the intensity, the structure, the tempo,” she added. “(I left with) many great ideas to take away and implement with our own teams and programs.”

By Evan Ream. Follow @EvanReam