This week we showcase the people behind the players. The masterminds. Take a look at each of the Head Coaches for the 10 teams in the National Women's Soccer League.
Tom Sermanni serves as the head coach of the Orlando Pride, the newest club in the National Women’s Soccer League based in sunny Orlando, Florida.
Sermanni boasts a remarkable and successful coaching career spanning 25 years. His winning mentality and focus on player development have directly contributed to the success of two of the most prominent national teams in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup – Australia and eventual champions, the United States.
As a player, Sermanni had over 300 professional appearances and 57 goals in a 16-year span for clubs in his native Scotland, England, Australia and New Zealand. As a coach, he spent much of his early career in Australia, taking the helm of the Australian Women’s National Team for the first time from 1994-1996.
In 2002, he took over as head coach for the New York Power of the Women’s United Soccer Association and was nominated for Coach of the Year. In 2004, Sermanni returned to helm the Matilda’s and led them to the quarterfinals of the 2007 and 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and the team was ranked eighth – the highest ever – in the FIFA Global rankings.
In 2012, Sermanni was named head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team, compiling a 17-2-4 record in a two-year span. During that time, the squad retained its No. 1 FIFA ranking, captured the 2013 Algarve Cup and registered its first unbeaten year since 2006.
The first head coach in the history of the Dash, Randy Waldrum enters his fourth year in the professional game after one of the most successful collegiate tenures in NCAA Division I history. Waldrum's career totals of eight NCAA semifinal appearances, five title games and two championships (2004 and 2010) all rank second in Division I women's soccer coaching history. His combined win total (399-108-29) and win percentage (.771)—spanning 24 total seasons at Tulsa, Baylor and Notre Dame—both rank fifth in the DI women's soccer record book.
A native of Irving, Texas, Waldrum graduated from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls before playing professionally for the Los Angeles Skyhawks and Indianapolis Daredevils of the American Soccer League. After hanging up his cleats, Waldrum spent time at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas Longhorns Soccer Club and Austin College before starting the men’s soccer program at Texas Wesleyan University in 1988. The next year he took over both the men’s and women’s teams at Tulsa University, where he spent the next eight years and remains the winningest all-time coach for both programs.
Waldrum returned to Texas in 1995 to start a women’s soccer program for Baylor University. In the first three seasons of the program from 1996-98, Waldrum compiled a 46-14-3 record and secured the first Big 12 championship for Baylor in any sport with a 9-0-1 conference record in 1998.
The success at Baylor earned Waldrum the head coach position at national powerhouse Notre Dame, where he found immediate success. In Waldrum’s first season at the helm, Notre Dame won the Big East tournament and made its way to the NCAA championship match before losing out to North Carolina. Waldrum would go on to win two national championships with the Fighting Irish in 2004 and 2010, as well as 12 Big East regular season titles and seven tournament championships. Waldrum coached five national players of the year (three MAC Hermann trophy winners) and 28 All-Americans while at Notre Dame, and collected five Big East and two national Coach of the Year awards.
In addition to his collegiate responsibilities, Waldrum served as a member of the U.S. Soccer staff since 1992, and was head coach of the U.S. Under-23 Women’s National Team from 2012-13.
Randy and his wife, Dianna, have a son, Ben, who served as an assistant coach alongside his father at Notre Dame for five years and is now the affiliate director and part of the ECNL staff at FC Dallas.
In his first year with the Western New York Flash (now North Carolina Courage), Riley led the team to the 2016 NWSL Championship where they defeated the Washington Spirit 3-2 in penalty kicks to raise the trophy. Before coaching the Flash, he was the head coach of the Portland Thorns of the NWSL in 2014 and 2015.
The Liverpool, England native coached the Philadelphia Independence of Women’s Professional Soccer to back-to-back championship game appearances in 2010 and 2011. With a 26-16-3 record in his two years with the team, Riley was named the WPS Coach of the Year in 2010 and 2011.
Before the Independence, Riley coached the Long Island Fury (WPSL) to a league Championship in 2006 and 2009, earning him the WPSL Coach of the Year Award in 2009. The team was Eastern Conference Champions four years in a row under his leadership and went 48-6-8.
Riley coached collegiately for CW Post from 1991-1997 and was awarded New York Regional Coach of the Year in 1991. With a 98-48-11 overall record, Riley was NYCAC Coach of the Year five times. He then moved on to coach the Long Island Rough Riders (USISL, USL D3 Pro), where he won the league championship in 2002.
His own professional playing career began in the United States where he played for the Long Island Rough Riders, Albany Capitals, New Jersey Eagles, Glen Cove, Hercules, and New York Atlas. He is the all-time leading assister for the Rough Riders.
Mark Parsons, the Head Coach, for the Portland Thorns has had somewhat of a "Cinderella Story". Read all about it!
An English professional women's football coach and former player. She is currently head coach for Seattle Reign FC of the National Women's Soccer League. She previously coached Arsenal L.F.C. and Birmingham City L.F.C. and served as assistant coach for the England women's national football team at the U-17, U-19 and U-23 levels. Harvey was named FAWSL Coach of the Year in 2011 after guiding Arsenal to win the league title, FA Cup, and Continental Cup. She was named NWSL Coach of the Year in 2014 and 2015.
Matt Beard was named head coach of the Boston Breakers on Sept. 22, 2015. Beard most recently coached Liverpool Ladies FC in the FA Women’s Super League (FAWSL), guiding the team to back-to-back FAWSL titles (2013, 2014). In 2013 with Liverpool, Beard compiled a record of 12-2-0 in 2013 and led the team to the FA Cup semifinals. He was named FAWSL Manager of the Year in a season that saw Liverpool qualify for their first-ever UEFA Women’s Champions League.
In 2014, Beard won the FAWSL title for the second year in a row, posting a 7-2-5 record. Liverpool also qualified for the UEFA Women’s Champions League for the second year in a row.
Prior to landing in Liverpool, Beard was the first team manager of Chelsea Ladies FC, where he spent three seasons (2009-2012). With Chelsea, Beard guided the Blues to the FA Cup final in 2012, the team’s first year in the FA Women’s Super League. He also led Chelsea to the FA Premier League Cup semifinals and finished third in the FA National Premier League.
From 2008-2009, Beard served as first team manager for Milwall Lionesses, where he won the Premier Southern Division.
As assistant first team manager of Charlton Athletic from 2004-2007, Beard was part of a coaching staff that helped the club earn several honors, including the FA Community Shield, the FA Cup title, and Premier League Cup.
Beard’s coaching career began in 2000 in the men’s game as Reserve Team Manager at Kingstonian FC in the National Conference. Beard led the club to the Surrey Premier Cup Final. He then served in similar capacity at Tooting and Mitcham, where he led the team to a third-place finish in the Suburban South Division. He later took over as Assistant First Team Manager at Hampton and Richmond Borough in the Ryman Premier Division.
Beard and his wife, Debbie, have two children: Harry and Ellie. He was born on Jan. 9, 1978 and is from Roehampton, London, England.
Rory Dames will be entering his sixth season at the helm of the Red Stars, after leading them to two league finals and a USASA’s National Women’s Cup triumph in 2012.
Dames also serves as the Director of Coaching and Player Development for Chicago’s Eclipse Select Soccer Club, which consisted of three teams when the Illinois native took over in 1996 and today boasts over 50 male and female teams with more than 750 players ranging from ages 8-19.
Dames has led Eclipse Select to many accomplishments over the past ten years, including being recognized as the top girls soccer club in the nation by Soccer America in 2007 and 2008, as well as by NationalSoccerRanking.com in 2007. Over the years, Dames has lead the club to eight national championships, six national finals, eleven regional championships, 17 UYSA MRL championships and 37 Illinois State Cup championships.
Born and raised in Chicagoland, the Red Stars Head Coach played his high school soccer at St. Viator in Arlington Heights until graduating in 1991. Next, he went on to star for St. Louis University, winning several conference championships and making an appearance in the NCAA Final Four. Dames then joined the Rockford Raptors for one professional season.
After his college career, Dames went on to coach not only Eclipse Select but also his high school alma mater. He would serve as Varsity Girls Head Coach at St. Viator for eight seasons (1997-2005) and guide his teams to seven conference championships and seven regional titles. Dames made five trips to the Elite Eight during his tenure at St. Viator, winning three state championships.
The man in charge of the Red Stars continues his work at the youth level, having turned Eclipse Select into one of the best known and most respected girls clubs in the nation. He also serves as the ID2 National Girls Director. Dames currently resides in Antioch, Illinois.
Jim Gabarra became general manager and head coach of the Washington Spirit ahead of the 2016 NWSL season. Formerly the head coach for Sky Blue FC, Gabarra earned a record of 24-22-21 over the three first seasons in the NWSL.
Gabarra started with Sky Blue FC coaching the team in the WPS in 2011 before leading them into the inaugural season of the NWSL. He earned a 24-22-20 record (W-L-T) in three seasons from 2013-2015, including qualifying for the playoffs in 2013. As part of his affiliation with Sky Blue FC, the Key West, Florida native also coached the New Jersey Wildcats in the USL W-League in 2012.
Gabarra, who spent 10 years in the DC area coaching the Washington Freedom, led the Freedom to back-to-back appearances in the WUSA Championship in 2002 and 2003, winning in 2003. After WUSA folded, he coached the Freedom to a USL W-League Championship in 2007. Gabarra also led the Washington Freedom to two consecutive appearances in WPS playoffs in 2009 and 2010.
In five professional seasons in the Washington D.C. area, Gabarra was in the playoffs four times and won one Championship. He is the only person who has coached in every season that there has been a professional women’s league in the United States.
As a player, Gabarra earned 14 caps with the US Men’s National Team, including an appearance in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.
Vlatko Andonovski has wore several hats during his time as a soccer coach in Kansas City. But he is stepped down from one role, head coach of the Missouri Comets, to focus all his attention on his other, as head coach of FC Kansas City. He also remained as FCKC’s youth soccer technical director.
The Comets, a team in the Major Indoor Soccer League that Andonovski previously played for, won the 2014 league championship under his reign. Before joining the MISL, the Comets went 40-7 in the Major Arena Soccer League under Andonovski.