ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 5, 2024) — Ahead of the 2024 National Women’s Soccer League Draft, the Orlando Pride, North Carolina Courage and Racing Louisville joined forces to hold a joint Goalkeeper Combine and Special Topics Diploma, Evaluating Pro Level Goalkeepers, in conjunction with United Soccer Coaches. The three-day event was held at the Orlando Health Training Ground at Sylvan Lake Park, the exclusive training facility for the Pride.
“We are so honored and excited we were able to host this event, a first-of-its-kind opportunity and collaboration between NWSL teams, prospective players and coaches,” said Orlando Pride VP of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter. “Investing in the development of our game is so important to us, and we were happy to not only give players a single place to be seen by three clubs, but also do our part to bridge the gap between high school, college and professional coaches. We hope to continue with more of these opportunities in the future and thank our friends at the Courage and Racing Louisville for making this event such a success.”
Starting on Thursday, Jan. 4, 17 NWSL Draft eligible goalkeepers participated in the combine, with players from multiple Power 5 conferences and mid-major programs. The two-training session event included technical work and larger, game-like scenarios, as well as a player orientation and Q&A session on the NWSL Draft process with Carter.
Paired with the combine, the trio of teams hosted the Evaluating Pro Level Goalkeepers Special Topics Diploma on Jan. 3, 4 and 5, held in partnership with United Soccer Coaches. The course welcomed 19 goalkeeper coaches across the collegiate game and elite-level high schools, with a total of 11 women coaches participating.
The Special Topics Diploma included observation of the Goalkeeper Combine, on-field coursework, presentations from NWSL goalkeeper coaches, with lectures and overall curriculum developed and facilitated by United Soccer Coaches’ Director of Goalkeeping, Lisa Cole.
NWSL goalkeeper coaches Paul Crichton (Orlando Pride), Nathan Thackeray (NC Courage) and Sergio Gonzalez (Racing Louisville) participated in a Q&A with the coaches about goalkeeper development and future of goalkeepers in the women’s game, with the presentations featuring education on goalkeeper periodization and load management, goalkeeping trends in the NWSL, and the youth-to-pro pathways for goalkeepers.
Through the course, the coaches were able to develop a deeper understanding of what NWSL coaches look for in a goalkeeper, unique profiles of players and how each coach can enhance their goalkeepers’ training sessions to better develop the players’ profile and set them up for professional-level opportunities.