Member Spotlight: Meet Alyse
Value to live by: Community!
“Community” is a perfect word to kick off this interview because that’s exactly what the WIS network is all about. Can you tell us what’s your favorite soccer memory?
A recent one that stands out for me was the first game that Sky Blue played at Red Bull Arena after I was brought in as General Manager. There were over 9,000 fans that day and as I walked the concourse chatting to fans I turned to the pitch right as we scored a goal. The reaction from the fans was just amazing! The memory is etched in my brain because it felt like such an honor knowing I was there to steer the ship of a club and community that brings so much joy to people.
You’re an important figure in this industry. What do you think is the greatest thing about women’s soccer?
The best thing about women’s soccer? Sorry if this is starting to sound like a broken record but it’s got to be the community! For fans and the women who work in soccer, it’s a real labor of love. We have a unique sense of community because we have to overcome obstacles to grow our passion for the game. For starters, accessibility is a hurdle to loving the game; the media doesn’t cover the women’s game nearly enough.
Agreed! Sometimes it’s a challenge just finding where to watch your favorite team. What inspires you even when things are tough?
Well, I’ll be honest as a woman and as a leader in soccer, there’s a lot of tough times due to how isolated I can sometimes feel in this role. There’s such a lack of women in the soccer industry and I think for me that’s motivation to uplift those around me because I want to see a future where my position is totally normal. Right now, there are two women GMs out of essentially ten teams in the NWSL. There’s only one woman head coach, and that’s here at Sky Blue FC. That’s three out of twenty roles filled by women in a women’s pro league and that’s absolutely ridiculous! We’ve all heard the stats—if a woman doesn’t totally meet the requirements that a job description has, she may sit back and not apply. But a man with the same experience or less will apply confidently. It’s beyond baffling, and I think a lot of it has to do with the way we’re conditioned and the biases we face.
Abby Wambach’s book Wolfpack opens with her talking about the imposter syndrome she feels being a “leader.” I mean, even Abby Wambach feels that inner bias!
What soccer organization doing work for women do you admire most?
I don’t just say this because I’m on it, but United Soccer Coaches. The organization has advocacy councils and I’ve been on the women’s advocacy council for a long time. Haley Carter (WIS Expert Member) is the chair of the committee and she does a great job organizing us to use the platform to push for more women coaches. I represent the admin side so I advocate for more women in admin roles within the soccer industry. I believe that’s also crucial to getting a more inclusive stamp on soccer culture in general.
I also want to add how proud and inspired I am by The Black Players of the NWSL coalition. They have already made such an impact with their collective presence in our league and I think it’s important to keep amplifying the game as a vehicle for social change.
Absolutely. We’re eager to support the positive changes that groups like those are making in the space. What makes you excited about WIS?
The community WIS is creating is so vital to the success of women in the game. For me, I came into the league as an intern for the Chicago Red Stars years ago. I was lucky enough that Marcia McDermott was the GM at the time —a former champion coach from the Women’s United Soccer Association. On my first day, Marcia asked me, “What do you want to do with your career?” And I said, “I would like your job,” which is obviously a very bold thing to say when you’re walking in as an intern.
Oh, that is bold! I love it!
(Laughs) I know right? Luckily for me, she has a great sense of humor. I was extremely fortunate to have a mentor like Marcia who saw what I wanted to do. I didn’t realise it until much later, but in those early years she was moving me around various departments very rapidly so that I could learn all facets of the game. Having someone who was really looking out for me, who gave me opportunities and saw my potential was a large factor in how I became a GM so quickly. The beauty of women empowering other women is the ability to see potential in each other and not see one another as a threat. I hope that when the next young woman dreaming of becoming a GM comes along, they take my spot and continue to push the game forward. That’s what I’m looking forward to most with WIS: it’s about having a community determined to support all women and push them into this space.
WIS member spotlights are conducted and written by our content producer Pip Penman.