Correction: A previous version of this article reported that Tracy Hamm already had her A-level coaching license from the UEFA. She has not yet received the license, but is on track to receive it in March.
By Ryan Maquiñana
Special to S.F. Examiner
The San Francisco Glens Soccer Club of USL League Two are proud to partner with the Examiner in featuring a different boys’ or girls’ high school team from The City every Sunday.
This past Wednesday marked the 33rd Annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day, and the St. Ignatius girls’ soccer program is the embodiment of progress on the field.
All three coaching staffs — the Wildcats’ varsity, junior varsity, and freshman teams — are made up entirely of women. And as of the publication of this article, all three are currently on track to sweep the West Catholic Athletic League titles.
“There’s been a lot of support from the S.I. community for what we’ve tried to do with an all-female staff,” said first-year head coach Tracy Hamm, who has steered the Wildcats to the top spot in the Examiner’s San Francisco prep rankings with the help of assistants Jaclyn Kurtella and Brooke Bruneman. “We’ve been really appreciative of that.”
In addition, the Wildcats’ coach is only one of two American women out of the 48,000 coaches in the world to be receiving an A-level coaching license from the Union of European Football Associations, which she should receive this year.
Hamm was forced to earn her coaching credentials in Europe after the U.S. Soccer Federation controversially rejected her application.
“It seemed unfair because the USSF required you to have three years of pro playing experience, but there was no women’s pro league for several years during my own playing career,” explained Hamm, who played two years in now-defunct WPS. “So men were able to qualify because there was Major League Soccer or other leagues here, but without a pro league for women, how were we supposed to qualify? It just seemed like an unfair barrier.”
Hamm’s story was documented in an upcoming film called Coach, which will hit the big screen for the first time on March 16 at SF State. In the meantime, she hopes to lead St. Ignatius to a trio of trophies, starting with the WCAL.
A league title will likely result in the Wildcats earning a No. 1 seed in the subsequent Central Coast Section Open Division tournament, with the final competition afterward — the Northern California Regionals — the biggest prize of all.
“It took about 10 games for me to identify where players were going to be at their best, but I’ve really enjoyed working with this group,” Hamm said. “There’s been more of a shift from hiding our weaknesses to showcasing our strengths.”
The St. Ignatius roster is deep on attacking talent, with senior midfielder and leading scorer Lauren Frohan the offensive engine of the team.
“It’s definitely different from last year,” said Frohan, who has committed to play at the University of Pacific next season. “Knowing that [Hamm] is a college coach, and everything she’s learned over the years, she’s really been able to enhance our games.”
However, the Wildcats back line’s proficiency has been just as vital in maintaining a nine-game unbeaten streak in WCAL games, a streak which includes shutouts in their last three contests. The secret? An ethos based on togetherness and camaraderie.
“I’m in a pretty high-pressure position where you don’t get the ball as much, but my teammates motivate me, because every move you make can be the difference between a win or a loss,” said goalkeeper Audrey Schaffer, the team’s vocal leader who was instrumental in S.I.’s 2-0 win over second-ranked Lowell in non-league play.
“It’s been an amazing season,” added right back Lizzie Reardon, who also plays club soccer in the San Francisco Glens’ youth system. “Representing our school with that name on your back and seeing your friends out there just really makes you want to do your best.”
Last season, the Wildcats finished third in the WCAL and were runners-up in the CCS finals. The bar is higher this time around.
“Once you’re in the playoffs, it’s a different season,” Hamm said. “But this team will be prepared and confident, and that’s all you can ask for.”
NEXT WEEK: Postseason outlooks for the BCL, CIF-SF, and WCAL.
The San Francisco Glens just had four players selected in January’s MLS SuperDraft and are entering their second season in USL League Two under head coach Javier Ayala-Hil and technical director Jimmy Conrad. Learn more about the team, as well as our new beer garden and fan zone at Boxer Stadium, on SFGlens.comor on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram@SFGlensSC.
SAN FRANCISCO BOYS’ SOCCER TOP 10 (as of 2/7)
SAN FRANCISCO GIRLS’ SOCCER TOP 10 (as of 2/7)
SF GLENS SOCCER SPOTLIGHT: PREVIOUS FEATURES
Nov. 25: Can St. Ignatius repeat as NorCal champions?
Dec. 4: Giant-killer Leadership defends City title
Dec. 11: Changing of the guard at No. 1 Lowell
Dec. 16: University taking on all comers
Dec. 26: Sacred Heart Cathedral’s blue-collar attitude
Jan. 6: Mission’s boys led by humble heroes
Jan. 12: Junqua, Boateng selected in MLS SuperDraft first round
Jan. 20: Can Mission’s girls finally dethrone Lowell?
Jan. 27: Lick-Wilmerding on collision course with University