Monday, January 26, 2009

Fear the Anteater

Of the top 40 or so players in the U.S. Women's National Team Player Pool, just one is a full-time assistant coach for a Division I school. That would be defender Kendall Fletcher, who has been the asst. coach for two seasons at UC Irvine in California. Drafted by the Los Angeles Sol in the new WPS, she will continue her duties at UCI, which is only about 40 minutes down the freeway from The Home Depot Center, where the Sol will play its home games. Fletcher, who is from Cary, N.C., and played her college soccer at UNC, helping the Tar Heels to the 2003 NCAA title, has traveled a long way for her first coaching gig.

"After working summer camps at Carolina, I knew I wanted to coach after I graduated. I just loved it," said Fletcher. "It was a way to keep me around the game after college and without a pro league. I was lucky enough to have (UCLA head coach and U.S. WNT asst.) Jill Ellis recommend me to Scott Juniper, the head coach at UCI and I applied. I interviewed for the job and I think I fit what he was looking for."

Fletcher says that it's been a smooth transition from player to coach, and she has really enjoyed her two seasons so far.

"It's been very fulfilling to be able share my experience in the game with younger players. I've really enjoyed working in a new environment on the West Coast and I feel I've grown a lot as both a coach as a player. I can't wait to see what the coming years bring as far as my continued growth as a coach and our continued growth as a program."

Fletcher, who won a U-19 Women's World Cup with the USA in 2002, was a top college player during her four years and was a top pick of the Sol, is certainly a great role model as a player and person for the young UC Irvine Anteaters.

"I've benefited from playing for some great coaches in the past and I really enjoy watching players develop. I want to pass on to our players the knowledge I've gained from these great coaches as well as my passion for the game."

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