TUKWILA — Laura Harvey of the Seattle Reign — the only female coach in the National Women’s Soccer League — was honored Wednesday as coach of the year.
“It’s a good recognition to have,” Harvey said. “But any head coach will tell you, you can’t do it on your own: it’s the players through to the back-room staff, the front office and ownership that make the club what it is today. I think we’ve made huge strides forward. Sometimes as a head coach you get the wrath of that, and sometimes you get the credit, so it’s nice to get the credit for the club.”
Harvey, 34, is in her second season with the Reign. In 2013, Seattle finished seventh in the eight-team league. However, this year they finished on top at 16-2-6 and will play FC Kansas City for the NWSL championship at noon Sunday at Starfire Sports Stadium.
“I saw the two sides to it: things going really well, obviously, and things being difficult,” second-year midfielder Jessica Fishlock said. “But the only thing about Harvey is, she just didn’t change. There was nothing from Day One last year when I first met her and right now that have changed as to the way she coaches and the way that she handles situations. Not only is her knowledge about football just second-to-none, but also her man management is probably the best I have ever seen.”
Harvey, 34, is a native of England, where she played on youth national teams. She coached at Birmingham City and Arsenal before joining the Reign in the NWSL’s inaugural season.
She was asked about winning the award over eight men. Mark Parsons of the Washington Spirit was runner up, while Vlatko Andonovski of Kansas City came in third after taking the award last season.
“I’m a true believer in terms of whoever is head coach of whichever team, it has to be the right person for the right job,” Harvey said. “… We’ve got some great coaches in this league who have done remarkable jobs for their teams, and I don’t think it’s a negative in any way that they’re not female. But … with this generation of players, I’m sure you’ll start to see a lot of female coaches coming out of this group in years to come whenever they decide to hang their boots up, because I think that’s the way that the game’s going. But I will always believe and always stand by I think it just needs to be the right person for the right job.”