ST. LOUIS — Former U.S. Women’s National Team player, World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist, Lori Chalupny, has joined forces with the head coach of Fire and Ice Soccer Club, Lindsay Eversmeyer, to start the only female-led all-girls youth soccer academy.
Eversmeyer started Fire and Ice back in 2013, which is a semi-professional soccer team based out of Belleville, Illinois.
The team competes in the Women’s Premier Soccer League, the largest women’s league in the world, which is just below the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). WPSL rosters feature current and former collegiate players from respective regions.
“After continued success over the past seven years with Fire and Ice; including making it to the league Final Four two years in a row (leaving one with a National Championship) and helping seven players move on to play professionally in either the NWSL, Sweden or Australia; we came to the conclusion that it was time to start an all-girls youth academy,” Eversmeyer said.
Eversmeyer, who is the executive director of the youth club, has known Chalupny for a long time. She proposed the idea to her back in January to become the assistant director and she couldn’t turn it down.
“Lori and I have the same vision as coaches. We want to provide these girls with realistic role models… show them that we are female athletes that have access to the next level and coaches that can be inspiring on and off the field,” Eversmeyer said.
As much as soccer has exploded within the last decade, it is hard to believe that not only are there very few youth soccer clubs with all-girl players, but not a single club in St. Louis and Illinois is led by one.
Sure, there are female coaches in the area, but all of the youth soccer programs are ran by men, when in fact, it’s actually a very female dominant sport.
“The whole reason I created the WPSL team in the first place was that there wasn’t an opportunity here for women,” Eversmeyer said. “I played for a men’s professional indoor team and I did that because there was no other option. I wanted to bring awareness that there are two sides to this: a men’s and women’s game. I love that we’re promoting the women’s side of the game.”
“It is something unique that is not offered in the area and will help focus on the issues that girls deal with instead of boys,” Chalupny said. “The club soccer scene has become so serious. It’s almost like a business…. My coaching philosophy is to remember why we are playing, allow the game to be the teacher and encourage fun above everything else.”
Chalupny will continue as the head women’s soccer coach at Maryville University and Eversmeyer will continue to coach Fire and Ice (WPSL) during their time building the Fire and Ice Youth Academy.
The program will hold two training locations in Illinois and one in St. Louis. Fire and Ice Soccer Academy will hold tryouts in June and will be playing in the St. Louis Youth Soccer Association (SLYSA) starting in August of 2019.
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With the community lacking female leaders in youth sports, Chalupny and Eversmeyer are very excited about what’s to come for this program… in fact they are “pumped.”