As the World Cup reaches fever pitch, this All-American inspires Idaho’s next generation of players
Much of Allison Gibson’s passion and profession has been defined by soccer. As a player, she was an All American and as a coach, she became the winningest coach in Idaho State University history.
Now, as president and director of coaching with the Indie Chicas Football Club, she helps the next generation of players realize their potential on and off the field. But she’s never seen this level of excitement for women’s soccer.
“This is a time like no other in my lifetime of just seeing the excitement around the game, the level of the game improving year in and year out,” said Gibson. “It’s just an awesome time to be a part of this amazing and beautiful game that some of us have made our livelihood out of.”
And with Idaho’s Sofia Huerta part of Team USA in this summer’s World Cup, there’s a fever pitch … on the pitch. Gibson visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about Indie Chicas, the World Cup and inspiring the World Cup players of tomorrow.
“Our young girls are growing up with a confidence and a sense of pride in playing the game, but also in lifting each other up and helping each other become stronger, more empowered women.”Allison Gibson
Read the transcript below:
GEORGE PRENTICE: It's Morning Edition. I'm George Prentice. Good morning. There are few moments when much of the world can come together and share some joy. Indeed, it's not every year. So, when the World Cup comes around every four years, it is quite a moment for all of us. And of course, the Women's World Cup continues its roar this week in Australia and New Zealand. And with Idaho's Sofia Huerta being a member of Team USA, it's a fever pitch… on the pitch. Allison Gibson is here - an All American on the field as a player. As a coach, the winningest coach in Idaho State University's history. And she's the president and director of coaching at Indie Chicas Football Club here in Idaho, where she and her colleagues help young females realize their potential on and off the field. Allison Gibson, good morning.
ALLISON GIBSON: Good morning. Thank you for having me.
PRENTICE: First up, I don't know if we're a bit spoiled. It appears as if we are truly in a golden age of women's soccer, don't you think?
GIBSON: Yes, I definitely agree. This is a time like no other in my lifetime of just seeing the excitement around the game, the level of the game improving year in and year out. Just an awesome time to be a part of this amazing and beautiful game that some of us have made our livelihood out of.
PRENTICE: So, tell me about Indie Chicas.
GIBSON: Indie Chicas is an all-girls soccer club here in the Treasure Valley. We work with girls from ages five all the way up until 18. We our entire purpose is to empower young women. The way we do that is in our certain style of coaching with how we speak with our players, how we work to empower them, and using a Socratic method of coaching where it's not, you know, the typical coach stands on the sideline and just basically directs traffic. We ask the girls to really think through the game and come up with their, you know, the answers to solve the problems on the field on their own with our, you know, kind of with our assistance throughout training and throughout the week. You know, we recognize success as seeing our players, you know, master each skill set that we work with them in each individual age group. And that's how we measure our success. And it's, you know, not in the wins and losses, especially in our younger ages. It's more about, you know, are they accomplishing the things that we're putting in front of them in order to achieve those things? We also are just, you know, really big in creating a fun and a belonging environment, one that's all about empowerment, all about development, so that our young girls are growing up with a confidence and a sense of pride in playing the game, but also in lifting each other up and helping each other become stronger, more empowered womenin the world in general.
PRENTICE: Can I assume that inspiration breeds…, well, more inspiration and the generations of new players just keep coming?
GIBSON: Absolutely. You know, I think for us, seeing women athletes compete and celebrated at the highest level of the game is just a huge confidence builder. You know, we always love to say that if you can see it, you can be it type of mentality. And you know, on that note, and you mentioned Sofia Huerta early on in your introduction, and, you know, there's a there's an Idaho player that we're all excited to watch. Maria Sanchez is another Idaho player out of American Falls that plays for the Mexican national team, is actually on our board of directors now. And, you know, just trying to get these type of women out and around our players that they can see them. And, you know, even though you come from a smaller state in in our nation, it's, you know, obviously there's things that you can do. And if you put the work in that you can accomplish these things just like they have.
PRENTICE: It's a blast to watch these matches as a group together. Do you and your colleagues or some of the girls hope to watch some of these matches together in the coming weeks?
GIBSON: We do. We are actually on a summer break right now so that they're kind of a lot of them are taking vacations. It's been a really long year and we've been excited about all that we've accomplished. But we're hoping to as the US gets into the knockout stages, we're hoping to do some things at Friendship Celebration churches where our practice field is and getting together as a group and watching some of the matches there as a club. So, we're excited about that.
PRENTICE: What is your calendar like? When are you back together?
GIBSON: Our first day back at practice is August 14th. We start out with a friendly tournament up in Bend, Oregon, August 19th and 20th, and then our season gets started here the week after Labor Day. So, I think around the 11th or 12th will be the kickoff of the Idaho youth soccer season for the fall.
PRENTICE: And again, you said the ages are from you said 5 to 18.
GIBSON: Yes, five all the way up to 18. We kind of run the run the gamut there of the ages. So, our little ones come in and start with our academy and just start playing fun games and getting to know and love the game of soccer and coach them all the way through until they're getting ready to leave for college.
PRENTICE: And so, talk to me about that because I'm guessing, you know, scholarships are sometimes part of the conversation. There have to be more scholarships nowadays.
GIBSON: Yes, there are. There are quite a few fully funded programs in the US are at 14 scholarships still behind some of the other sports. But we're catching we're catching up quickly here. I currently coach the U-17 team. I'm moving into U18 this fall and we have one player that's already committed, Naomi Kessler, to the University of Idaho, which we're really excited about. Several players on that team are currently at college camps this summer trying to get on other coaches’ radars and seeing if they can't secure their spot for next fall. And being college players. So, we play in the girls academy out of Portland, Oregon is where our oldest team plays right now. So they're getting a lot of college looks and a lot of recognition for the Indie Chicas in the state of Idaho, they have been ranked as high as number 12 in the country in the last year. So we're really proud of that group as well and have a lot of young players looking up to that group as well and hoping to cement their place in the college game as they move on from their youth careers.
PRENTICE: Well, more than a few parents will probably be listening. And as their kids are watching the World Cup, I'm guessing those suppertime conversations are, “Hey, why not me?”
GIBSON: Yeah, that's correct. We you know, like I said, our academy starts at we've even had a few four-year-olds in there. But you know, just getting them to absolutely love the game. We're firm believers If if it's no longer fun, it's, you know, it's not worth doing. And so, we make sure that that fun and that belonging and empowerment development, teamwork are our core values and that those are just, you know, intertwined in everything we do from training sessions to, you know, our soccer games to tournaments. We also host a monthly confidence club for 8- to 12-year-old girls really try to increase their level of confidence and self-pride in their game and themselves as just growing up as young adults. So, we do a lot as far as just trying to make sure that the girls have every tool they need necessary to succeed, not only on the soccer field but in the classroom and, you know, whatever other settings that they are stepping into to be leaders and just to be positive influences in their communities.
PRENTICE: I'm fascinated that you mentioned using the Socratic method where there's never really an ultimate answer, right? A question and answer just triggers another question, another answer. And it's all about discovery, right?
GIBSON: Absolutely. And I feel like after playing this game, you know, myself at the at the highest level and for years and being around the game as a college coach and as a club director, you know, I have found not only in myself, but my own friends that I grew up playing with and watching their careers unfold and just what they've done and how they've been successful and running their own businesses and families and being large parts of their communities. And several of the kids that I've coached that have gone on to very successful careers, it just it really stands out to me that, you know, being able to help solve the problem as a player and not just doing what you're told all of the time is ends up being such a tremendous asset in later on in life and being able to make the important decisions that come your way. And I've just seen that unfold time and time again. And so, it's just really empowered me to make sure that our coaches are coaching in that style, that, you know, we're involving our players. Players in every decision that we possibly can. And while setting the framework and making sure that they're definitely accomplishing the things that we need them to do soccer wise and through technical and tactical areas of the game, but really just bringing them along and having them a part of it and coaching each other and lifting each other up and, you know, having a master's in leadership, I think one of the hardest things I remember learning at the University of San Francisco in my in my program was that one of the number one reasons women leaders fail is other women. And how, you know, from time to time they'll pull each other back. And so when I learned that, it was really reshaped the way I thought about how we're coaching young women as they come up through the game and using that that vehicle of soccer to create such a great environment for them to learn to lift each other up and empower one another and still challenge each other. And there's nothing wrong with, you know, having fun and being in a competitive environment, but knowing that together, you know, synergistically, we're stronger together than we are going out on our own. So we've really implemented that in the Indie Chicas and we're starting to really see it come to fruition. And I couldn't be more happy about that.
PRENTICE: Allison Gibson is president and director of coaching at Indie Chicas Football Club here in the Treasure Valley. Allison, great good luck to you, your colleagues and all of these amazing young women. And thanks for giving us some time this morning.
GIBSON: You know, we just love what we do. And, you know, it's putting it in all of these things and these principles and these values and the purpose of what we do and making it come to life on the field and in the classrooms and in our communities. So we definitely appreciate your recognition of us for sure.
PRENTICE: Stay cool and thank you.
GIBSON: Thank you again. Go USA. Thanks, George.
Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren
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