Name: Haleigh Svede 
Pronouns: She/her
Postion: Seton Hall University, Women’s Soccer, Director of Soccer Operations and Head Coach at Berkshire Soccer Academy
Catchphrase: Be kind. Work hard. 

What’s your favorite soccer memory?

I have a compilation of so many playing, coaching, and fandoming (is that a word?) moments in my soccer life/world. The biggest ones that stick with me are the moments when I was a younger female athlete. I remember growing up seeing what Nike called “The Greatest Team You’ve Never Heard Of” the 2007 USA National team: Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd, Lindsay Tarpley, Cat Whitehill, Hope Solo, Natasha Kai and Shannon Boxx. I LOVED these women! I will forever have memories engraved in my mind of waking up at 4 am as a little 12-year-old soccer player in our Virginia Beach vacation house to watch this group of women play in the World Cup. I wore my Cat Whitehill custom jersey proudly, and my Natasha Kai jersey like I was a surfer and soccer girl like her. This little 12-year-old Haleigh waking up to watch a game she loves is the feeling I always chase and want to feel within this soccer world of mine. 

What do you think is the greatest thing about women’s soccer and working in soccer?

AHHHH. I mean, this game has been in my life since I was.. five? and to now think that it’s my career and my job I constantly have to pinch myself and make sure I’m not dreaming. I feel so grateful I have had the opportunity to play, coach, and be involved in this women’s game for 20+ years. This side of the game has so much to showcase, celebrate and overcome and it’s just getting started. The opportunity to work in the game is quite surreal for me. To think that every time I meet a player something I do can help them to be more confident, believe in themselves a little more, try something hard, or feel like they can accomplish anything, is truly my favorite part of coaching in women’s soccer. Before every training, I think to myself what can I do to make my players better today and help them find that version of their best selves both on and off the field.

What inspires you even when things are tough?

If I’m having a tough day – I’m usually having a tough day mentally. If I’m not at 150% energy-wise, I’m at 0%. But no matter what I’m going through I know I can still shed a little bit of good somewhere and that always lifts my spirits. I find meditating extremely helpful and calming, and if I am feeling down I take a moment to recognize my feelings and take a few minutes to get into a better headspace for myself. I do think it’s really important to recognize when things might be off and not just push through, we all have our off days, we’re all human. 

Can you tell us about a soccer organization doing work for women/ girls and underrepresented communities that you admire? Why?

Oooooh…Do I just have to pick one..?!? Everyone should know about these organizations: 

Women in Soccer (of course)

Soccer Without Borders / Switch the Pitch 

The Sports Bra Project 

Female Footballers 

Girls Academy National Advisory Panels 

Each of these programs is doing extremely important and extraordinary things for humans on and off the field. Soccer is so much more than just a game and all these organizations are great examples of showing that.

Please tell us what experiences and strengths you are bringing into the WIS community.
I believe I bring love, support, and being my whole true self to this community. After all of my soccer and coaching experiences, I’ve realized I feel my best when I’m 100% me and I hope I can inspire other people to feel comfortable and confident in being themselves. 

What impact do you think connecting more women, marginalized folks and allies will have on the equity of soccer?
If we can work together to support and be advocates for one another we will be forever unstoppable. Hundreds of voices make a lot more noise than one. 

What makes you excited about WIS?

I have had the chance to meet a handful of WIS members and admins and I cannot even begin to explain the excitement I have to be a female in the world of soccer because of communities like WIS. I love my job, but it’s so much more than a job to me and WIS recognizes that in all of us and goes above and beyond to make women in soccer heard and unstoppable.