Role Models On and Off the Field

Role Models On and Off the Field

Dean Linke  |  Host of The ECNL Podcast  |  2020

This week’s Breaking The Line podcast from The ECNL features two segments that both come back to a common theme that we should all be thinking about – Role Models.   According to studies, 81 percent of people say their role model has influenced some of their major life decisions.  This is an important reminder that we need to consider who the critical influencers are that shape a player – beyond soccer skills – and what we as coaches, parents, and trainers can do to encourage positive Role Models in players’ lives.

Jason Kutney, the ECNL Boys Commissioner, chats with a panel of some of the top soccer coaches in the US in this episode.  The discussion was insightful, but also was enlightening in terms of the message that kept resonating: coach after coach noted the importance of the culture of the club and team.  The power of having even the youngest players practice and play within the eyesight of pro players to absorb their work ethic, teamwork, and commitment was clear.  It was obvious that a shared belief of everyone was that the pathway to success was lined with critical role models, influencers, and the right environment to succeed.

Our second guest interestingly echoed this message.  Madison Hammond is the first Native American player to play in the NWSL.  She came up through the ECNL program and was recruited to Wake Forest at an ECNL National Showcase years ago.  When you chat with Madison about her career and her path to the pro ranks, her discussion consistently goes back to her mother Carol Lincoln, and the influence and respect she has for her.  “My Mom is so supportive of everything I do. She is such a badass….  She says ‘no, it’s just my job.’  Every time I think it’s too much stress, she takes it like a champ and it’s inspirational. Even though I have this awesome thing with sports, what she is doing every single day is so important for the country.  I’m constantly in awe of her.”

One thing that has always attracted me to sport is how the character is universally celebrated as part of the game – whether through coaches on the sidelines or players on the pitch.  This character creates natural opportunity to be a positive role model.  This episode was grounding to hear that these coaches and players all realize and respect that the role models, people and experiences we surround ourselves with are such guiding forces in our development as people and players.


Birmingham United Soccer Association