As March is coming to a close, with it brings a month-long celebration of Women’s History Month.
It’s a month that recognizes the achievements of many women and the continued pursuit for equality and breaking through the glass ceiling.
In the sporting world, Soccer has taken to the forefront in fighting for equality and equal pay for women, with members of the United States Women’s National Team, past and present, including local hero Meghan Klingenberg, leading the way in this push for equality in sport.
As the landscape changes in the world, so will the sports landscape.
In a report from the Aspen Institute in 2019, they reported 27% of youth sports head coaches were women. The NCAA reports that under a third of all head coaches at the US collegiate level are women. Female coaches are overrepresented in sports viewed as “more feminine”, like dancing, cheerleading, and gymnastics (85% and above). Accordingly, women coaches are underrepresented in sports viewed at “more masculine”, like soccer, basketball, and martial arts (35 % and below) (Source: WSF).
Looking at the landscape in Western Pennsylvania and focusing on soccer, there’s one club which stands out with having an outstanding track record of female representation in Director/Leadership, Coaching and Administration.
Century United leads the way, with 21 females holding different positions within of the club.
Club President Pat Vereb cites there are a lot of quality female coaches who deserve these opportunities.
“It’s not a club initiative to search out women but recognizing women who are qualified for the positions,” Vereb said. “The club has opportunities to add quality female coaches early on as assistants and help them grow into head coaching positions.”
At Century United, young female players have a chance to see someone like them in a coaching role and with whom they can make a personal connection.
One of those coaches building connections with many young, female soccer players as part of Century’s program is Erica Marshall.
Marshall currently serves as Director of Player Development at Century United, where she played for the club in the late 1980’s before heading off to Towson University to play at the collegiate level. Following college, she began her coaching journey at Bryant University, then on to Duquesne University.
After being hired by Century to be Director of Player Development, Marshall was elated to be elevated into a position for a club with whom she grew up within as a player and coach.
“It really is a full-circle experience when you have an opportunity to serve in a leadership role for a club you played your youth career,” Marshall said in a club statement in December 2020. “I am so excited to work with the high-level coaching staff within the club to help provide an elite development experience for players and their families.”
In addition, Marshall is currently is a volunteer assistant for the University of Pittsburgh’s women’s team and will be leading Century United’s first-ever team in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) in 2021.
Century United has built an impressive lineage of impressive female coaches and players through the years.
Heading up Century’s Girls Academy as its Director, is Randi Rohm, who has been with the club for 15 years following a playing career at Notre Dame, where she won a National Championship in 2004 playing for current Pitt Head Coach Randy Waldrum. One of Rohm’s first youth players included 10-year-old Veronica Latsko, who is currently with the Houston Dash following an impressive collegiate career at the University of Virginia.
Rohm will be assisting Marshall with Century United’s WPSL team along with Bri Murgi, a current college coach at Westminster University.
“I’m honored to be given an opportunity to be a part of the coaching staff for Century United in WPSL for its inaugural season,” Rohm said in the club’s announcement. “With player development the focus at the youth level, the addition of the WPSL team will not only give our alums, but all PA West players, who are playing at the next level, an environment to develop, be challenged and prepare for their upcoming college seasons.”
Vereb and club leaders are ecstatic to see many of Century United’s trailblazing female players who spend many years with the club, now with families of their own bringing their daughters back to Century United to be part of the club they grew up in.
With continued change and growth on the female side of the sport, more girls are encouraged and taking on coaching and leadership positions in soccer following their playing careers.
There’s little doubt that Century United will continue to be at the forefront helping to provide those opportunities.
— Erica Marshall (@CoachEMarshall) March 9, 2021