Michelle French Goes From the
Center Circle to the Sidelines
As a brief scroll through the links to the right of this page will indicate, Washington Youth Soccer has had no small hand in writing the story of U.S. Soccer’s first 100 years. However, few contributors have ever done what Michelle French is doing currently — going from the center circle as a National Team player, to the sidelines, as a National Team coach.
“One of the biggest lessons I learned through my playing career is that if you want to give yourself the best shot at being successful, you have to control the controllables,” French said in March, when the former U.S. Soccer star was named head coach of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team. “When all is said and done, players need to ask themselves, have I done everything in my power to give myself the best opportunity to be successful? Being able to truly self-evaluate and really hold oneself accountable for one's development is one of the outstanding traits found in the most successful athletes.”
If anyone would know what it takes to be successful, it’s French. A star at a young age for Seattle’s Kennedy High School and numerous Washington Youth Soccer Clubs throughout the region, French earned a scholarship to the University of Portland, where she played for legendary coach Clive Charles and earned All-America honors.
The Seattle native would go on to earn 14 caps with the U.S. Women’s National Team, helping lead the Americans to a silver medal at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney. French also spent nearly a decade at the highest levels of professional soccer in the U.S., finishing her pro career back home in Seattle with the Sounders Women.
For many, that alone would mark a brilliant career. But French, 32 years old at the time and invigorated by a successful battle against non-Hodgkins lymphoma, was just getting started.
Over the past four years, French has funneled that determination into becoming one of the nation’s highest-regarded coaches, earning her U.S. Soccer “A” License and finding success at all levels of the game. In February, she was named head coach of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team; just five months later, her former youth squad,, Eastside FC 98 Red, captured the US Youth Soccer National Championship.
Now, at an age when many of the U.S.’ top soccer stars are hanging up the cleats, French is gearing up for another World Cup — the 2014 Under-20 FIFA World Cup.
“With the U.S. winning three out of the five FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cups, there is an immediate pressure to uphold that tradition of competitive excellence and success,” she says.
If anyone can do it, it’s Frenchie. After all, she hasn’t been stopped yet.