Catching Up With Izzo-Brown
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It’s been an exciting month for the West Virginia women’s soccer program. Head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown sat down to discuss the team’s recent youth national team participation, the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) draft, national signing day and much more. Let’s start with the multiple U.S. Youth Women’s National Team participation. How did freshman Kate Schwindel do with a long U-20 training camp in California?
The feedback I received from Kate and (coach) Steve (Swanson) was very positive. She had a great camp, and it was something she was excited about. It was good to identify the area she needs to work on and will help prepare her for the next time she is called in.Senior Blake Miller also was picked to attend a week-long camp in Florida with the U-23 squad. How did Blake do against some of the nation’s best talent?
I think Blake did a great job as it was really one of her first camps. She came in and adapted well in that type of environment. Her speed of play improved, and she got better as the week went on. I think it was important for her to learn a lot and improve each day. And she did that. You also were selected to coach the U-23s as an assistant coach last week. Tell us about that experience with Team USA.
It always feels good to do something for your country and being part of U.S. soccer is a special thing. I get to work with some fantastic coaches and Randy Waldrum is one of the best out there. It’s a real treat to work at that level and help U.S. soccer in whatever way possible.Erica Henderson was drafted in the WPS by the Western New York Flash. What kind of opportunity will Erica have to play in the pro ranks?
It’s a very exciting opportunity for Erica. She is one of those feel-good stories because of her attitude and work ethic on the field. Her career has been based on hard work. Now she has the chance to compete against the defending WPS champions and in her hometown. She has her work cut out for her but I’m looking forward to watching her transition from being a BIG EAST champion to playing in the pro ranks.Henderson joins Carolyn Blank and Megan Mischler as current WPS players. Is the program at the point where it can consistently place soccer players in the pro ranks, whether WPS or overseas?
I think it is. I just spoke with (former Mountaineer) Kim Bonilla who was playing pro soccer in Australia. Then with Blank and Mischler back for another year in the WPS, it’s great. It’s nice to see we have ladies playing after college if they choose to. Our staff has done a great job of developing our players and maximizing their talent, to try and make an impact on the next level.
The 2011 team banquet is coming up next weekend. Will it be hard to say goodbye to this special group of seniors?
I’m very much looking forward to the banquet as we have so much to celebrate. During the season and once it ends, we sometimes forget to reflect on our accomplishments. We had a great season, but this senior class also had great careers as Mountaineers. This is a close-knit team and I think it will be hard on the underclassmen to say goodbye. It will be sad, but I’m really looking forward to putting them on a pedestal and singing their praises for the work they’ve put in the last four to five years.National signing day is just around the corner, are you excited about how the class is shaping up?
It’s coming together nicely, and there is some talent in this class. Perhaps more importantly, this incoming group has a lot of quality ladies that want to work hard and continue our tradition of winning championships. It’s always exciting to get a new crew in, and hopefully this class can leave an impact down the road like our departing seniors have.The team is back and working hard with spring workouts. How have training and strength and conditioning workouts gone?
We had a great session yesterday and I know the ladies worked hard last week while I was gone. They were complaining about how hard it was, so that’s always a good sign. We’re never satisfied as coaches, and we see a lot of potential in these ladies. This is an important time for individual development as a player, and we want to maximize our time with them.Finally, how close are you on releasing a spring schedule?
We are very close. We get to play the Western New York Flash which is something neat for our ladies to play such a high-caliber team. We have the ability to go overseas and gain some valuable experience with our foreign tour trip to Spain. And then we have some regular spring games to try and get better as a team. It’s an exciting time for WVU women’s soccer.