The University of Chicago men’s soccer team is stacked with All-Americans and veteran leaders. But it’s their rookie head coach who is making history.
Julianne Sitch guided the university to an undefeated record and top seed in the, making her the first woman to coach a men’s soccer team to the championship tournament.
Sitch could make more history Saturday. If the University of Chicago Maroon’s win the Division III national championship game, she will be the first woman to coach a men’s soccer team to a national championship.
“It gives young girls something to aspire,” she told CBS News. “If they can see it, they can dream it, they can believe it, and then aspire to be that.”
Sitch’s journey started as a 5-year-old girl playing on boys’ teams and continued when she was a professional player in Australia, Sweden and the United States. She took over the Maroons in April, and became one of only two women coaching an NCAA Division III men’s soccer team.
“I’ve coached a lot of young girls but I’ve also worked with a lot of young boys as well and I think at the end of the day you’re coaching athletes,” she said.
While it’s a first for most of the team, they are quick to tell you that gender has nothing to do with winning. It was never “a huge, pressing thing that she was a woman,” said Griffin Wada, who is a senior and team captain.
“She’s just a calm presence,” he said.
“Once we step on the field, our play speaks for itself and speaks to her coaching abilities,” said junior goalkeeper Will Boyes.
To Sitch, gender doesn’t really have much to do with coaching, either.
“Every coach has something different to offer,” she said.