Friday, September 14, 2012

U.S. women's soccer team coach, opens up about strategy

Unequivocally the best women's team in the world, the U.S. national team took the Olympics by storm as they soundly defeated every opponent they faced. Their coach, Pia Sundhage, was arguably the backbone of the team. She recently announced that she is resigning in order to coach her home national team in Sweden. Surely, the U.S. women will miss their fearless leader, who garnered them a 89-6-10 record.

Sundhage gave an exclusive interview to U.S. Soccer on September 6, in which she discussed strategy, her team's strengths and weaknesses and everything in between.

With regard to her strategy during the Olympics, Sundhage told U.S. Soccer, "I try to put myself in the other coaches’ shoes and see what she or he is trying to do. I try to look at their style and so forth. It’s more like tactical adjustments because that is very important at the highest level."

Sundhage added that she always chose her lineup carefully and with consideration of the team's opponents, as she believes the players are some of the most important soccer equipment an elite team has.

While the U.S. coach won't give away any of her team's soccer drill secrets, before several of their exhibition games coming up this fall, the U.S. women's soccer team will hold practice sessions open to the public. It will give fans an in-depth, exclusive look at how the gold medal winners train day in and day out.

Fans sporting U.S. soccer jerseys who would like to find out more about the sessions or purchase tickets to one of the exhibition games can visit U.S. Soccer's website.

Another first for women in football: a high school quarterback

Early last month, Shannon Eastin made history as the first female NFL referee, breaking a decades-long gender barrier in the sport.

Over Labor Day weekend, another young woman joined her in the annals of football history. Erin DiMeglio, a senior at South Plantation High School, in a suburb of Fort Lauderdale, took the field with her football shoulder pads and is being hailed as the first girl in Florida to play quarterback for a high school team.

DiMeglio participated in two plays in the South Plantation Paladins' season opener on August 31, which they won 31-14. While she may not have scored a touchdown or even gained a yard, her snaps were the most important of Friday evening's game.

In an interview with The New York Times, DiMeglio said, "My friends all think I'm crazy, but they also think it's pretty cool."

DiMeglio is not new to football. She learned the game from her father as a girl, played in a flag football league from fourth grade on and as a freshman in high school, became quarterback for South Plantation's girls' team.

During her tenure there, DiMeglio reportedly expressed frustration to her parents and coaches that her teammates couldn't keep up, that the "the girls [couldn't] catch her ball because she [threw] too hard." Over time, her coach Doug Gatewood said she wore him down, and when DiMeglio backed it up with impressive performances in practices and scrimmages over the summer, he put her on the boys' team.

Gatewood told The Associated Press, "It's great publicity for the school, it's a positive thing, but at the end of the day that's not why we did it. We did it because she's a legitimate third-string quarterback."

DiMeglio may not become the Paladins' clutch player this season, but she will certainly be one of the most remembered for her achievement.