Oct. 14, 2021

Overcoming Barriers and Empowering Women with Tracy Hamm, Head Coach of UC Davis Women’s Soccer

Overcoming Barriers and Empowering Women with Tracy Hamm, Head Coach of UC Davis Women’s Soccer

In Episode 51, Tracy Hamm, Head Coach of UC Davis Women’s Soccer, talks with Phil about her incredible journey to obtaining her UEFA A license and the documentary made about it (“Coach”), crashing big wheels and “pool sharking” as a kid,...

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In Episode 51, Tracy Hamm, Head Coach of UC Davis Women’s Soccer, talks with Phil about her incredible journey to obtaining her UEFA A license and the documentary made about it (“Coach”), crashing big wheels and “pool sharking” as a kid, mentoring, creating and maintaining healthy culture, preventing toxic teams, understanding “the other” and other perspectives, integrity, and how pressure is a privilege. Specifically, Tracy discusses:

  • Her story and how she grew her passion for soccer, coaching, and leadership (2:07)
  • Lessons learned from her childhood crashing big wheels into walls and being a “pool shark” on the playground (7:04)
  • Insight on an interesting recruiting story from her high school years (10:17)
  • Her why and life purpose, and how it has played out in her playing and coaching over the years (12:11)
  • The importance of mentors and mentoring as a coach (14:44)
  • How she seeks to create and maintain healthy culture and encourage integrity on her teams (18:31)
  • Toxic vs. healthy teams (22:11)
  • “Coach,” the documentary about her quest for the UEFA A Coaching License, and what it feels like to be one of the few women to earn the license, and why it is important to get more women coaches in the game (25:07)
  • The importance of taking time to understand “the other” in our lives (27:55)
  • The importance of having different perspectives in coaching staffs and teams (31:16)
  • What she is most excited about and most disappointed about in US Soccer (36:51)
  • What she hopes her players have internalized before they leave her program (39:10)
  • What she learned from the game that she has used in her life outside the game (41:16)
  • Her book and podcast recommendations (42:36)

Resources and Links from this Episode


Phil: Welcome back to How Soccer Explains Leadership. Thanks again for your download. Thanks for being a part of this show. Paul and I absolutely love that each and every one of you listening are learning along with us, from our guests, from the different things that we're able to share with you. And today is no different.

I'm Phil Darke, your host. And today we have Tracy Hamm who her resume would take the whole episode to go through all of that. But she is currently the UC Davis women's soccer coach. Go Ags. That is my Alma mater, and I am very proud to say that we have a great women's soccer coach there now. She also has a.

Called the UEFA A license, which very few women in the world have. And we'll talk a little bit about that today. There's been a documentary made about her as well. It will point you to, and hopefully you'll check that out cause it's a pretty, pretty great documentary that you can watch. She also has a whole bunch of degrees.

I don't have time to talk about all of them, but it's pretty darn impressive when I'm looking at the old resume. [00:01:00] So anyway, without more from me about Tracy, Tracy, how are you

[00:01:04] Tracy: doing? I'm doing great. I'm in the middle of double days with the Ags right now. We're loving it. I think we're all so happy to be back on the field.

Finally, after a very long time.

[00:01:15] Phil: Yeah, no kidding. You know, I've, I've actually spent the last week doing pre-season DISC training with some teams out in Texas. I'm very much glad to be back in California. First of all, where it's not 85% humidity. But it's been a lot of fun seeing the. girls pretty antsy to get out on the field, the coaches antsy to get out on the field.

So I have a feeling it's a pretty good feeling to be

[00:01:34] Tracy: out there. It's been really positive energy so

[00:01:37] Phil: far. So that's really good. That's great to hear. That's great to hear. So, you know, before we get into, you know, the, the, the, kind of the nitty gritty about the, the interview and some of the things that are talked about in the little intro, you know, briefly share your story.

Yeah. You know how you got to be passionate about soccer and leadership and really how you got to be the UC Davis women's

[00:01:57] Tracy: coach.

Yeah. So I played like [00:02:00] every single sport that existed, I think, growing up and I was like a three sport athlete in high school. I think I tried to play five sports. And then there's just not enough hours in the day. And also, you know, academics are important. So there was, it was hard to fit everything in, but I just grew up a competitor and sports was definitely something that was a huge part of my life.

I'm the middle girl. I've got two brothers. My parents are super competitive from like starting like board games. To anything. And it was just a culture and my family to compete and be passionate about doing things the right way. Everything had to be fair. If you cheated in a board game, you were like not allowed to play for like two years, you know, it was, everything had to be fair and you had to show up and put in your part.

So, it was Yeah, but I think throughout my whole childhood, I just started to compete. And so soccer was my favorite sport. And that was kind of my ticket, I think, you know, into college to playing at the highest level. And I loved it. You know, I loved being on a team. I loved just the, kind of the culture of soccer.

You really didn't need a lot of equipment. You could go anywhere and play anywhere. And [00:03:00]I really liked that it was kind of the global sport. I grew up in a really small community and I think that soccer you know, touches every corner of the world. And that was a really special thing to me. So, when I got to Cal and played my college career there I think at that point I fell in love with.

The team aspect which sounds interesting, cause I was 18 and I already been playing for, you know, 12 years at that point. But I think when you're younger you know, you play a little bit selfish and it's kind of like, what can I get for myself out of this game, especially during the recruiting process.

And so when I got to Cal I realized that there's players that were a lot better than I was and that I actually had to really, really work for things. And I really liked the, the women that were very well-rounded and very holistic in their approach to the game. And so after. College the pro league didn't exist yet.

And so I played for three years in the WPSL and I started to coach a lot because like most people, when they graduate college, when they're not an athlete anymore, they're lost. And so I was doing like 10 different jobs trying to figure out what [00:04:00] Ellis gave me as much joy and passion as the game did.

So I loved coaching and but I coached club. And when the pro league started again in 2009, I got drafted and I played for two seasons. And I had three, three pretty serious knee injuries throughout my career. And I also realized in my last pro year that I really loved coaching and I missed that part of it.

And I started to think about the game in a very different way, and I didn't have that same drive and passion as a player as I did for coaching and analyzing the game and seeing it more from an analytical standpoint. So I went to grad school and I got my master's in sports. Do from Boston university.

The I always thought I really had a good grasp on the mental side of the game, and I really wanted to develop that educational piece as well. And I wanted to be a sports psychologist, and then I realized I don't want to do that, but I still took kind of the, the tools and educational piece from that.

And I implemented it into my code. So when I was done with my master's, I got my first head coaching job at Santa Rosa junior college, which I knew nothing about junior college soccer, but I knew that [00:05:00] it was a full-time position that paid pretty well in wine country. So I was not mad about that. And, you know, I think it was on par with the level that I was at in terms of my knowledge and awareness you know, for building, building the right environment and knowing, you know, the level of the game and the demands.

And it was wonderful. I had great three years there. And at that point, I didn't know that I was going to be. A head coach you know, as a profession at that point I was 28. I was still kind of young trying to figure out like what, where's my place in the world and what do I love? And I just had such an incredible experience there.

Not necessarily from the soccer level, but. The different demographics and how eclectic of a group it was. And that there was women that were going through so many different things and they were in such different pieces in places in their lives and the challenge of getting everybody to play together.

And then seeing their life trajectories change. Was just so powerful for me that it really made me want to invest in women and invest in the game in a much more [00:06:00] profound and professional way. So then I got hired at San Francisco state, whereas the head coach for four years. And again, just really loved the developmental piece of growing women off the field, as much as showing them how to compete and how to win in a healthy way on the.

And then now here I am, did well there and got, got my first division one head coaching job at UC Davis.

[00:06:23] Phil: Yeah. You know, and obviously there's a whole lot more to every story we'll get into some of the rest of it today. You can also, again, watch the documentary. It's called coach. We'll have the link to that on the show notes and a couple of things from that documentary.

Actually, the first thing is. Did you get a concussion when you hit the big wheel into the house? That was one of my favorite scenes in that whole thing. I mean, a lot of really good stuff in there, but honestly that, I think that was my favorite scene. When you just like barreling down a hill, just head first into the, into the house.


[00:06:54] Tracy: I know. And of course my dad, the audio is just laughing, like good parenting. [00:07:00] Good, great parenting dad. But that was over. Todd is just, you know, I don't think I got a concussion, but I definitely stunned myself, you know? And I think that my whole life I've just been very fearless in a lot of ways.

And it started when at a very young age where test the boundaries see how far you can go. And if there's a wall in your way, there might be a wall in your way. But, you know, back and get up and maybe try again or try a different, different route next time.

[00:07:26] Phil: Yeah, no, it was great. It reminded me of my wife filling our kids too, because she would, she would have done the same thing.

Just film it and then check if they're okay. Later, you know, that's kind of kinda the way it is. Yeah, it was, it was pretty fantastic. Yeah. Check it out folks. I mean, if for no other reason go watch the documentary for that. It was. Definitely worth the price of admission. But the other thing is, you know, you have, as you talked about, you have two brothers, you know, so what did, what did having two brothers, you know, you're, you're out in the middle of, like you said, right.

You're in the middle of the two of them. Would that teach you just really about life and, and how did that help shape you and who you are today? [00:08:00]

[00:08:00] Tracy: I think this is probably one of the most important things. And I kind of just came to this realization actually pretty recently was growing up, you know, being You know, having two brothers, I was never made to feel like I was a girl or like I was the girl.

And I think that, that, that was really important for me. later in life that I never really saw myself as being different or having these societal pressures on me to like, be a certain way because my parents raised me as if I was one of the boys. Like, this is what we're doing.

And my brother, my older brother in particular certainly treated me like I was his little brother in every way possible. Like we, you know, we're in the backyard playing wiffle ball, we went and played. Tag with all the neighborhood kids. And we were definitely like pool sharks, a little bit of a way, because we would play, you know, baseball or basketball all the time.

And no one wanted to pick the girl, you know, ever. And he'd be like, okay. Yeah. And like, I'd get picked last, but my brother and I both knew that I was good. Like the best player out of everybody, all the [00:09:00] boys. So he was like, whatever, you don't pick my sister, she's terrible. You know? And then we would just dominate.

So it was definitely fun in that way. My little brother is like special needs a little bit. He's he had a little bit of brain damage when he was born. And so he is, I've learned a lot of patience from. And just growing up, being a big caretaker of his I mean, he's super high functioning and great, but he was a little slow and it was interesting.

Cause my brother, my older brother and I were just go, go, go all the time. You know, a little bit of a disregard for what was around us, but I think having my little brother. Definitely made us both have great perspective and we're, we're big caretakers at the same time of being ultra competitive you know, and making sure that he was included in everything all the time and never felt different than us.

So it was a, it was definitely a special childhood for sure. Yeah,

[00:09:45] Phil: that's fantastic. And as I see the whiteboard up there, I got to ask the other question that I was wondering in the documentary that the, I think that one of the co coach he coached with or coach he played for it, it was at Cal. So you played for her.

And so when you got [00:10:00] there, you just moved stuff around on the whiteboard and basically said, no, this person should be here. This person shouldn't be whatever. What the heck were you thinking?

[00:10:07] Tracy: I hadn't even got the best person. I hadn't even committed yet. Like this. I was just a recruit on my visit and I walked in and I was like, I had, yeah, I had played with a bunch of the girls that were on their recruiting board and. Oh, God, it's like you look back and I'm like, I can't believe that I did that.

Like if there was a girl that came into my office now and did that, I would have been like, who does she think that she is? You know, And so I like horrified that I did that, but at the same time, I knew, what was going to take for us to win and be great. And I knew that their attitudes were not something that I wanted on my team.

And I wanted to go to Cal. I knew I wanted to go there, but I knew that I didn't want them as part of my program and I was 17 years old making that decision. So I don't, you know, like I apologize, like every time I see my coach is still I'm like, I am so sorry that that was me. And they were like, you weren't even on the [00:11:00] team yet.

And then it was like, they were like, you grew out of it by the time you got here, you were humbled by the seniors. And they I'm, I'm assuming now as a coach that they probably had that conversation with the seniors and the juniors are like, this girl is going to come in and she's going to try to walk the walk.

Put her in her place. And they did, I mean, they came at me the first week, so it was good. It was good.

[00:11:21] Phil: That's all right, because you, you knew you could take a big wheel through a wall, so it didn't really matter if you were okay. Right. So, okay. So we're going to shift gears a little bit, you know, that those are some little fun things from the.

great documentary that I saw that I just had to ask her. I, I would've, I would've felt like I didn't, I missed the opportunity. but now let's go get a little more serious. So what is not that, that was, I mean, that's actually some really cool lessons. People can learn from all of that. We just talked about.

What is your personal, why, and really your life purpose. And how has that played out in your coaching, UC Davis, and really elsewhere over the years, as you got your UEFA A and other [00:12:00] things,

[00:12:01] Tracy: I think that it's shifted, right. And it's saying as you mature your perspective on the world changes quite a bit and where you see yourself in it I think my, my, why has now become really about empowering women to be great and to realize their potential.

And I think something that I, you know, just me personally, but also as a woman is now I've started to recognize that you're such a product of the people that you surround yourself with and that when people are better than you, at some point. It is, those are the people that you want to latch on to those aren't the people that you want to shy away from, or be scared of or intimidated or be jealous of ultimately.

And I think that that's something that women struggle with quite a bit. And I don't know if it's an insecurity or, you know, a lack of confidence.

That fear of like failing or not being good enough is something that when you find, you know, women or men or anyone that are successful, ask questions, like find a way to get [00:13:00] in their circle. Don't shy away from it because you're only, you only get better by surrounding yourself with people better than you.

And that's a hard thing to understand for a lot of people, but it's something I'm really lucky that. Realized early on that I was super motivated by maybe at the time, my perspective was I'm motivated by not being the best. Now I'm just motivated by other people being great, you know? And how can I carve out my own place than this while adding as much value to a situation as I can without these comparisons or.

You know, feeling inadequate, it's just about, I want to be great too, and I need to know how you're great and I want to support you in those endeavors. And I, my, my, why is to bring other people with me now, it's not to separate myself, it's to, Hey, I know what I'm doing. In some of these areas and I want to help you be great, cause I see a lot of potential in you and you're bringing other people with you.

So my why has definitely shifted And I just, yeah, I really want to empower people to be great.

[00:13:58] Phil: Yeah. And on that note, you [00:14:00] know, we talk a lot about mentorship on this, on this show and just mentors in the power of a coach in the life of players. And you know, how have you seen that? Like, as far as for you.

The importance of you having mentors and mentoring others, but then also the importance of other coaches and players themselves really seeing themselves as mentors and as leaders of others, even when they don't necessarily know that they're mentoring and leading others, especially at the higher levels, whether it's pro or college or, or national team, whatever it may be.

[00:14:34] Tracy: I think honestly, the, the it's really hard. The. I wouldn't say not the older that you get, but I guess the higher level, like you said, the more that you move up and the bigger numbers of people that you have to influence once increases because, you know, as a, as a college coach, right. There's 31 players on my roster and it's very difficult to build

really profound relationships with each player [00:15:00] because the nature of competition and the people that are on the field, the most you're coaching the most, I mean, that's just the nature of it, but you can always role model and influence everybody around you. And I think for me, my perspective is always, you know, I might, we might not be tight with every player, but I certainly want them to at least have a visual or consistency in my demeanor and my approach and my communication that is still influencing them.

Whether or not they're getting direct, one-on-one contact with me. And I think that that mentorship piece is, I mean, it's, it's honestly everything. Cause if you can't see it, it's really hard to imagine yourself in those situations or have a visual representation of, okay, this is how she handled this, especially for, you know, my staff, like I want them to all get head coaching jobs also, and I have to model the appropriate response and behavior and we don't get it right every time.

But I think showing the consistency is super important, but you know, I had really great [00:16:00]mentors whether or not they knew it at the time. You know, I'm someone that I think shied away from asking questions when I was, you know, early on in my career, because I didn't want it to appear that I didn't know something.

I felt like I had an. And now, you know, these women that I talk to that they're like, can you stop calling me? Probably because I asked so many questions, I want to know how things are done and the more perspective and difference in opinion that you can find the easier it is for you to weigh both sides of something and create the best thing that feels very authentic to you.

[00:16:36] Phil: Yeah, I think that's so important. What you said there just as far as, you know, to really be able to ask the questions and to say, I don't know. And I talk about that all the time. I don't know is such a great answer. If you don't know, if you then go and find the answer, if you then go in and research, if you then go and ask the right questions to the people who might know it as a coach to show the humility, to say that.

[00:17:00] And, you know, Hey, but let's figure it out together, right? Like that's something that I think you gain so much respect from people. Some people, like you said, you, you didn't want to seem weak. You don't want to seem stupid. You don't want to seem whatever fact the matter is when you say, when you try to fake it and then people figure out later, that's way worse than saying.

I don't know. So, all right. So the

[00:17:19] Tracy: vulnerability piece is really, really.

[00:17:22] Phil: Yeah, absolutely. It's huge. I mean, obviously Brene Brown is, has brought it to the fore over the last several years, but it's been a thing that's been around for a little bit longer than, than her Ted talk, but it's absolutely something that is, is critical to leadership.

If you're not vulnerable, you're not going to be able to to lead to the, to the fullest extent of leadership. So, You've also said I've, I've, you know, in some different interviews you've done, whether it's on the documentary or in other interviews, I've heard you say that you're a big culture builder.

You've also said your favorite quote is how you do anything is how you do everything. And really, I think that those two quotes [00:18:00] work together quite well, especially in the context of healthy cultures and why a healthy culture is so important to a team and how we can develop those healthy culture.

So can you just talk about those quotes, how they do work together? I mean, if you, if you agree with that and how you build that healthy culture or seek to build that healthy culture in your teams,

[00:18:21] Tracy: they definitely fit together. I think when I'm looking at building my culture, it always starts with integrity What I mean by how you do anything is how you do everything. And I am someone and I think the more you get to know me, this'll be more obvious. I don't really like rules. But I do have standards and expectations and that's the way that I approach everything.

Cause I think every situation is different. So when you put rules on things there, that usually means that there has to be some sort of repercussion and I just don't live my life like that. I don't operate like that. And I don't really think that teams necessarily need to have Very specific rules

for most things, I think that if you just have the right [00:19:00] standards and expectations, have integrity, be respectful of each other. Those there, the, the value system is really what is creates those rules, right. In those ideals and those standards. And then if there's something that happens outside of that value system, Well, then it's a different conversation, right?

Then there's, you know, maybe rules that have to be implemented or different, tough conversations that have to happen. But I think the way that I build my culture is really by building an important value system that everybody is bought in on. And some, you know, they're, you know, there's a lot of. You know, words, everybody uses like accountability is one of our values or commitment.

And they, they don't necessarily have to be profound, but what does have to be profound about it is that you are constantly and consistently implementing those values over and over again. You're not, you know, ever shifting away and everything that happens in your program or on your team you're using your value system to make decisions.

So it [00:20:00] is a, it's a priority. It's a way to keep things in line. It's a way to keep your standards and expectations at the highest possible level. But for me, the way that I lead everything is really just with integrity. And I, I really pride myself on just doing what I say I'm going to do, having followed through and really being, being me all the time.

Right. I'm not a different person necessarily off the field as I am. You know, on there's different versions. Like obviously when I'm competing, I'm incredibly intense. But I wouldn't say that like off the field, there's not moments where I'm not intense also. Right. I just try to be very authentic and genuine all the time.

Because at the very least You know, anyone that's around me, knows what they're going to get. They don't ever have to like walk on eggshells or be like, I'm not, I, what kind of mood is she going to be in today? I just I'm me all the time. You know? And they're, they know through my consistency, my players and my staff, like what's going to bother me, you know?

And it's not one thing one day it's like, listen, this is what [00:21:00] our expectation is. You need to come in and you need to have a good attitude. You need to work hard if you're not doing those things. Well, then we have to have a conversation, but like, that's the expectation. On the flip side of that, like I said, the, how you do anything is how you do everything is I hold myself to those same standards.

I'm not asking, I will never ask anybody to do something that I don't do myself. I don't think there's anything more irritating to watch. other leaders do. I it's just, you have to walk the walk and talk the talk, otherwise, you know, you're validation is out the window in a lot of ways.

[00:21:30] Phil: Absolutely. And. Fully agree with all that, you know, and I also know the importance of culture and every team, whether soccer team, organization, family, I mean, whatever, right? Like if the culture is unhealthy, it affects everything. And I know you've said that same thing. Why is that? And what does that look like?

Have you, I mean, have you, do you have an example of a team you've been on or teams you've seen that, that their culture is toxic and how that is affected everything versus a culture that's [00:22:00]healthy and how that has affected everything?

[00:22:01] Tracy: Sure. You know, I've taken over three programs now at this point, so I won't speak to which one I'm talking about, but you know, there's definitely a healthy way to compete.

And I think when you don't have a healthy level or understanding of what it means to compete with the purpose of making each other better versus the, you know, con competing to make each other worse And that to me is one of the most toxic things, because especially obviously in, in a sport environment, like you have to compete, that's, it's part of this is a competition, right?

It's a game. And so if you don't have that piece, then it affects everything because then, you know, the, the relationships that you're trying to build on the field end up, you know, Being pretty toxic off the field because competing and going to tackles hard, becomes something, bigger than it needs to be.

It's not just about the game. It's like, well, so-and-so, doesn't like me, so she's trying harder against me. And you have all these different, I mean, I have a lot of [00:23:00] examples of what it can look like, but ultimately when you don't have a good culture, it just takes the joy out of things. Right? Like I just remember sometimes showing up to this, this one program when I took over and it was, I just, it was like, there was, the joy had been sucked dry in a lot of ways from the players and I just, I felt bad, you know?

And so my entire. Purpose that season was just to make. And this is a little bit outside of who I am, you know, talking about being authentic all the time was just to be really positive and try to make it fun again. And then within that, try to teach them how to compete in a fun way. And that competing is fun, competing isn't painful. It's not something that needs to be you know, like a negative, right? That's what makes us fun. That's why we're here. We love competing and that's why we're playing at this level.

[00:23:45] Phil: Absolutely now totally dead. That's something that, you know, like you said, competing is fun and we got to figure out how to make it fun, especially for certain personality styles.

If you don't make it fun, they're going to bail pretty quick. And then other people will not like the conflict in, and so [00:24:00] they'll just be out and running for the Hills. So we need to understand all that. Which is why it's so critical to have that healthy culture. And again, we've all seen it with different teams to know you come in and how can we get that back?

And some people are more aware of it than others. All right. So let's shift gears now to talk a little bit about the, the documentary coach again, is what it's called and, and you know, first of all, The fact that matter is here's just the stats on it. And I saw this and I'm assuming the stats that popped up during the documentary were actually accurately as of the making of the film.

But only about 1% of nearly the 44,000 coaches with the license are women. And that is the highest license you can get UEFA. Is that that's correct? Right. All that is is, is correct.

[00:24:48] Tracy: There's a, there's a pro license now. Okay. Which takes a few years and you have to be coaching professionally in Europe in order to

[00:24:57] Phil: get it.

Yeah. So for an American coaching in [00:25:00] America, that's, that's what you can do. Right. So, you know, that, that in of itself is pretty cool. I mean, does that like ever get old to like, think of. The fact that you were able to do something that not an, and it's not something like, oh, you're so much better than everybody else, but the fact that you were able to accomplish that, I mean, it's got to feel pretty good.

[00:25:19] Tracy: It does. And you know, I've, I've seen the documentary obviously many, many times at this point, and there's a couple, you know, moments where I get like tearful in the, like when I rewatch it, I don't necessarily get tearful at those moments. You know, it just I've seen it enough, but the one thing that does make me tear up is actually when they put that stat, when that flashes on the board, because yeah, I think it's a really proud moment for me because it's still so shocking that how small the numbers is.

And yeah, it's an opportunity for me to look and be like, I did that. And not again, like not because I am better than anybody it's like, I just, and not that I feel like I survived something, but it's more of a feeling. [00:26:00] I did something really hard and I came out better for it. I came out profoundly better for it.

And I used that as a, you know, just like a reminder that we can do hard things. We can challenge ourselves and put ourselves in really uncomfortable situations and still, still thrive on the other side of it, you know, that it's, it's really hard to be great at anything, unless there's something challenging in your way, or unless you, you know, overcome something or.

Yeah, push, push your limits. And so for me, it's a, it's a really good reminder, but I hope that number increases. I've been doing what I can to, help other women pursue the license, because if I can do it, they can do it. And that's, that's one of the responsibilities of being, the first to do something is you have to pass the torch on and keep it going.

[00:26:47] Phil: Definitely, definitely something that I agree with. All that you said there. The other thing I know Amanda Cromwell who've had on the show is a good friend of mine. And she's talked to, we've talked a lot about these things too, as I coach [00:27:00] different levels and I've seen what she talks about and I'm sure you've seen what she talks about with me or has talked about with me, which is when before a game, the referee will come up to the male assistant coach and assume they're the head coach. And you said in the film, there's no, man, that knows what it's like to be a female player. And I know you're not saying that to say, oh, you know, poor me, woe is me, but just to be aware of the. There are these things that are going on that make it difficult, make it more difficult, little barriers that shouldn't be there.

I'm assuming that I don't want to put words in your mouth, but is that, is that kind of what you're talking about there? And then why is it important for us to understand what you know, what it is like and how we can be changing these things.

[00:27:45] Tracy: Yeah. I think that, you know, it's not even specific to soccer or to sport, I think in general, like you just, you don't know what you don't know, you can't know everything, you know, I don't know what it's like to be a [00:28:00] a black male living in America, as much as I can read or educate myself or have tough conversations or like learn, I will never know what that feels like or what that's like, I can give perspective and I can think I know, but I don't really ever know. And that's, you know, in, in women's soccer and as a coach and as a player, there's there's things where I I've had fantastic male coaches.

I've ha I have amazing male allies. I've got amazing male mentors. So it's not a knock to anybody it's just there's there's only so many conversations and things that you can talk about, but they, at the end of the day, like you still just like don't know. Right. And so you have to be open to having conversations and trying to learn as much as you can.

And so I, it just, the, the perspective of thinking. That there's an ability to change and grow and being open to it as a male is so important. And so, you know, the fact in the sounds, like obviously you're, well-educated and a huge ally for women in the game. but some [00:29:00] men would never even be interested in hearing anything that I have to say regardless, I could get every single license that existed.

I could have every degree that existed, but it's still, I'm still a woman. You know, and I, and for me, the, I think the way that I look at it now, as, as I'm like, well, it's just a bummer for you. I think, you know, before I used to think, okay, like I've got to keep fighting and working because I need the, I need them to like validate who I am and what I do, but now I just look at it and I'm like, you know, well, that's just too bad for you because you're missing out on a huge part of the game or understanding, you know, how to be the best coach you can be and understanding like women and the way that they look at the world and the way that they, the way that we see ourselves in it, you know, all of those things matter when you're trying to get the best out of a player and get them to perform at the highest level.

[00:29:46] Phil: Definitely. I think it's just learning, right?

It's that learning posture, Whether it's, you know, learning me, learning from females, me learning from other cultures, me learning from different races, different, you know, backgrounds, different, you know, Americans [00:30:00] who come from different backgrounds in different, rural versus urban, all these different things that we can learn from each other.

It makes us, it makes life so much richer. To understand and to actually be able to, and I've been fortunate enough to travel the world and, and to see different people in different cultures and share meals in their homes and just really get to dive deep into people, man. It's just, it makes everything better and richer in my opinion now I, so I, like you said, I mean with people are kind of like, well, I don't want to, I don't want to learn about that. Well, you know, that's. Right. You know, and if we spend all our time worried about them and trying to get that, we're not going to change some people. But why is it important going, going back to you talked about you had, you've had male coaches, you've had female coaches.

You, you obviously are female coach and different coaching staffs have both men and women on them. I think it's very important for at least, you know, for every staff to have at least one female, if you're coaching females, for sure. Why is that? What are the different things that different gender will bring to the table.

You know, it, whether it's coaching, boys, girls, [00:31:00] whatever. why is that? Why are those different perspectives important in the context of coaching?

[00:31:05] Tracy: Yeah, I think that when you're, you know, navigating your role as a coach, whether you're the head coach, the assistant coach You know, genders can become really important just from like an approachability standpoint.

I think in a lot of ways you know, we just said that, like you there's no, a man doesn't know what it's like to be a woman. And the reverse of that is true also. So, you know, coaching boys, like there's things that they're going to go through that I don't understand. And I can't give them feedback for like, I can listen.

Right. But my advice might not be the best advice because I don't know. And I think, you know, women, it's, it's interesting. You know, having watched and studied a lot of female coaches at this point. But there's definitely a level of like overcompensating in some ways that women try to project this you know, kind of appearance and demeanor that they're, they're tough and they're loud and they're yeah.

Typically, you [00:32:00] know, masculine traits, I guess, or this is who, what their male coaches were like. So they're trying to, you know, embody and personify some of those things where the more authentic that you can be the better. But I think that it's hard because women think that they're supposed to be a certain way and the more comfortable and confident and experienced you get.

I think that hopefully that that changes but having, you know, different genders on staff can be really important. I'm one of, I think there's only four. That's in the country that are all women. Mine's one of them. So I have three assistant coaches that are all female. And it's not because.

Really just wanting to have female coaches. I was just women that I knew in the game that I thought were super talented that could help us win championships. Right. There's obviously a lot of males that I know that would be great too, but I think that a lot of it is that women just need that opportunity to get their foot in the door.

And they're just as talented if, when given the chance and the opportunity to, to grow and to be in the right environment. But yeah, having a, having a balance can be really important. But I think it's really just for. Your, [00:33:00] your overall communication style and demeanor? I think I'm a pretty good balance, I guess, of what you would historically say is I guess more, more intense and competitive.

I don't really like raise my voice much, but you know, I think what you would think would be more of like a male trait I certainly embody at times. But I'm also very bubbly and fun wanting to be in lighthearted and approachable. So I try to find that balance because I think it's just good coaching.

It's not necessarily specific to gender.

[00:33:30] Phil: And I, I actually had that in the outline too, to kind of discuss, but I, and I'd be curious to hear if you agree, but I think most of it, a lot of it, not most, but like you said, the approachability I think is critical. Like just the fact that, you know, female, female, there are certain things.

Like you said, I'll never understand it. I just won't get I've. I have three girls and a wife in my home and I get that. Right. But I also believe that a lot of it's a personality thing and not a gender thing. The way we're wired, some of us are more [00:34:00] approachable. And then others, depending on who's coming to us.

And they, if they get us and we get them and we're the similar personality, sometimes it's easier to connect with them. Right. And they might seem less approachable because of personality. So is that something you agree with and you've seen also in your coaching and you're playing?

[00:34:17] Tracy: Absolutely. And that's, you know, the benefit of being head coach and putting your staff together as like, I know my, I know I'm scary.

Like I am, and I don't want to be, but like, I just know that I am like, that's my. I'm aware self-aware that there's there's girls on my team that are scared of me. Because they're not, they can't match my intensity or, you know, they're worried what I'm looking for. So you move in, you hire your staff, you're looking at what PA what personalities are gonna complement mine.

What's their style. We need to have someone that's gonna, you know, coach with humor and, you know, kind of be dry and sarcastic. And then we need someone that's just like joyful big energy. So I think. For me, it's putting together the right staff, but yeah, it's, it's just it's humans, right? Like we, we relate to, and we identify with [00:35:00] people that we're most comfortable with and to have that, you know, I try it on my staff to create a giant spectrum of approachability.

There has there's someone for everybody, you know, and that, that was my goal. And I, you know, my two previous programs, I only had one assistant coach or one paid assistant coach, I should say. And, you know, it's harder because there's less people to talk to. Right. There's, there's, we're short one person.

And the more it's like for me, like the more the merrier, the more people that, you know, the, the, the team feels like they can have honest conversations with and get honest feedback from is really valuable and really important. And. Yeah, it is, it is actually like invaluable in a lot of ways, but the balance of personalities and, you know, like it just, even as coaches, like you find yourself like having conversations with the people that you identify with also it's it works in both.

[00:35:50] Phil: Absolutely. Definitely. Alright. Few more questions to finish up. I mean, we could talk for hours, but we don't have hours to talk cause you got to get to another practice and you [00:36:00] know, the listeners probably would get, would get, it might get bored. I don't know if they would, maybe they would. Maybe they wouldn't.

I don't know. Cause. And you're intense. So, and a little scary. I mean, my, my kids have told me that I scare their friends often. So I think we're probably, if I'm guessing we're probably similar personalities. So maybe that intensity that they say, you know, especially with my blue eyes, I look into the eye and then it freaks people out according to my kids.

So anyway, that's a whole different story for a different day, but, but I want to get into it just for a few minutes. This could be a four hour conversation. We don't have four hours, so let's try and do it in four minutes. What are you most excited for? Relating to soccer in America. And what disappoints you the most about soccer in America and why, and what do you think we can do about it?

[00:36:41] Tracy: Hmm, that's a really good question. I think that I am most excited about the women's game becoming more and more popular and having a sustainable professional league. That to me, this is our third attempt and it's been good so far. There's a lot of room [00:37:00] for growth and potential, but I'm most excited that there is an investment in the game from big corporations, from you know, different marketing companies that actually want to grow the game that are investing in it. And also that the male athletes are also wanting the women's game to grow, not just soccer, but like, I think most sports, so WNBA and all those things.

I think what I am most disappointed about is probably how elitist youth soccer has become and how expensive and how difficult it is to access high levels without having money. You know, it's like soccer to me is like a game of the people, like, like I said earlier on it's a global sport and anyone can play it.

And I really am disappointed that it's become only accessible to certain demographics of people in a lot of ways. And there's a lot of exclusion that happens mainly just because of finances which is just really unfortunate. So I would say that that's probably one of the most, and this isn't specific just to women's soccer.

I think it's actually worse on the [00:38:00] boys side. So I think that that would be something that I'd like to change is just the accessibility to every demographic and ethnicity is really important.

[00:38:11] Phil: Totally agree with that. And I imagine you, my second, biggest disappointment imagine you'd agree with is the fact that everything is specializations so early, as you talked about you and I are similar in that, like if, if I could have played every sport in the world and my 10 year olds, the same way I would have, and he would, you know, he sees someone playing across, can I play the cross to debt?

Can I play rugby? Can I do this? Can I do that? I'm like, well, we can't do everything. Yes, we can play multiple sports and you will play multiple sports, and if your coach don't like it tough, you know, and then we'll find a different team. So I agree. And, okay. What is one thing that you hope that all of your players well, wherever you've been will understand and live out when they leave your program.

So basically, if you, if they don't know this, when they leave your program, you'll feel that you've kind of failed [00:39:00] them.

[00:39:00] Tracy: two things, probably the one we talked about earlier at how you do anything is how you do everything in that you need to live your life with integrity and show up for people. Do what you say you're going to do follow through is one of the most important things in the world. And then probably this is like another, I don't know if it's a quote.

I feel like it's probably something I read on Instagram. But a lion doesn't need to roar for you to know it's a lion. And I think in the age of everything being about what I have and what you don't have, or the world of filters and You know, showing the world that you're on vacation or I'm here and I have this and I'm doing that is that none of that matters, right?

Like you don't have to talk about, what you have or show people what you have. You just have to be who you are. And none of that, none of that stuff matters. You don't need to talk about it. Just, just be who you are, be proud of who you are, have integrity. And that that's where you build [00:40:00]relationships.

That's where you build rapport. That's where you build. You know, just, just perspective and confidence and really the, the visibility that you actually want is what people don't know about you in a lot of ways. It's just the interaction that they get with you. Yeah.

[00:40:16] Phil: Definitely. Yeah. I had conversations with that same.

Ten-year-old about that very thing that you, you don't need to tell everyone that you're good. Right? Like you let them see that and let them tell other people, and that's not your job. Your job is to play and to have fun and be a good friend. That's right. Okay. What lessons learned directly from the game of soccer?

Just maybe one lesson have you used in your life and leadership outside the game? The example we often use that I use with my kids is retaliate or it gets the red, right. So in our house when they fight, it's typically the second one that I see. Right. So I can make assumptions, but that's a good life lesson to learn is if you retaliate chances are, that's what we've seen.

That's what we'll get in trouble. [00:41:00] Something like that, that you've learned that you use in your life, outside the game.

[00:41:06] Tracy: Oh man. I would say.

And again, I'm not, this is not my quote, but you know, that that pressure is a privilege. And. For me that translates off the field in a major way, because we've all played games where when you win by six, it's fun, but it's not satisfying. It's kind of unsatisfying, right? Like you like the games that are one zero in the 90th minute or two, one, and overtime.

You like the challenge. Like we love the pressure and being in an environment. Where you're under pressure to perform. That's a privilege because that means that it is value to you. It means that it's important. And so if you look at translate that to like off the field, if you're doing stuff that's not really that important to you or you're in relationships with people that aren't important to you, it's very unsatisfying, you know, and to be committed and being invested in something [00:42:00] that you find value in is such a privilege because people search their whole lives for that.

And they can't. So pressures are privileged and winning big games is the most fun, you know?

[00:42:10] Phil: Definitely. All right. Last question. This is always a bittersweet feeling for me. I hope it is for my guests too. What, what is, what are one or two things that you've read listened to two or watched that have most impacted your thinking on how soccer does explain life and leadership?

[00:42:26] Tracy: Wow.

I would say that

I don't know this isn't necessarily soccer specific, but I think the book that made the biggest impact on me as a soccer coach. Was probably Angela Duckworth's grit. I think that, that book, it just spoke to me. And it put words on paper to feelings that I've always had. And it gave me a really good kind of framework to.

Talk about leadership with my team, because everything comes from, especially in sport, through perseverance and [00:43:00] resilience and response to failure and long-term goals, and being able to see things through, even if there's not an immediate result. And at gosh, to me, that soccer right. Soccer is one of the hardest things because we don't have timeouts.

There's nothing, there's no dead balls. Like you it's 90 minutes. You know, and you have to problem solve through that entire 90 minutes to, to get things done and to get the result that you want. And so it's a, it's a long-term game. It's not short-term. So grit for me, that book is fantastic. Angela Duckworth is a genius, in my opinion.

Let's see soccer specific. Gosh, you know, I really liked the Man City on Amazon Prime. I just, I think Pep Guardiola is incredible. And I love his leadership style. I think one of my favorite things that he said you know, we were talking about vulnerability is he's like, I don't want them to know that I don't know the answer I love.

Like I'll never let them know that I don't know. But he finds a way that. Kind of get out of a conversation to find the answer and then give them the right one. But yeah just, you know, I think his ability to [00:44:00] manage big personalities and a lot of money and a lot of demands and stress is really, really powerful.

And ultimately my takeaway from that as a leader in the game is he's so invested in his players as people, and he wants them to have success. It's not just about winning for him. But that's why he's had so much success as he's so invested in them as people and getting them to be great that that's, you know, made a major impact on, on his, on his record.

[00:44:23] Phil: I love that too, as a. Not quite lifelong, but pretty much lifelong Manchester United fan. It's always tough for me to say that I like that as much as I do, but it's a pretty brilliant documentary as is the one on Leeds, which is, which is another amazing one. So. All right. Well, Tracy, thank you so much.

In the little I've gotten to know you I've come to respect you quite a lot, so thank you for what you're doing and keep it up.

[00:44:48] Tracy: Thank you for having me. This is awesome. A good little breakup in my day, so yeah, I'm

[00:44:53] Phil: glad I could be of service. So folks, thanks again for your download. Thanks for being a part of this [00:45:00] conversation that we get to have every week on how soccer explains leadership.

I look forward to connecting with you whether it's on Facebook, on our Facebook group. If you also can connect with me, phil@howsoccerexplainsleadership.com. If you have any questions about the different things we're talking about on the show or the DISC training that I'm able to do the Warrior Way program, that Paul and tree Paul and Tracy, Paula and Marci Jobson Tracy hasn't started working with them yet.

Paul and Marci are doing out in Waco. If you have any questions about any of that, feel free to drop me an email, phil@howsoccerexplainsleadership.com. Thanks a lot folks. And as always, I hope that what you're taking from this show, you're using it to help you be a better leader, you using it to help you in your, every area of your life.

And you're also using it to help you understand how soccer really does explain life and leadership. Thanks a lot. Have a great week.