Friday, May 29, 2015

Sarah Itoh, First Woman to Coach a Win in AUDL

On Sunday, May 24, 2015, Sarah Itoh became the first woman to coach a win in a professional ultimate game. Originally hired as Assistant Coach for the Breeze in March 2015, Itoh acted as Head Coach for the American Ultimate Disc League team from Washington, DC, the last two games. The Breeze played two games over the weekend - in Toronto versus the Rush on Saturday and against the Dragons in Rochester the next day. Sunday's 26-25 win for the Breeze over Rochester Dragons was DC's 3rd win of the 2015 AUDL season.

DC Breeze team photo after their 26-25 win over Rochester.
In red shirts (l to r): Team owner Don Grage, Coach Sara Itoh
SLUDGE: How's it different winning as a coach than as a player?

Sarah Itoh: It's always gratifying to come out with a good win, or even to lose yet perform well as a player, because you know that you made a direct impact on the field and with the outcome of the game. As a coach, I felt like my contribution was not as important to our win. I think it really came from the team, and especially from the captains and veteran players. They really stepped up. I was very happy to be a part of it though, and I've got much to take away from the experience.

SLUDGE: Were you aware of this win as a milestone?

Itoh: I thought of the win as more of a milestone because we were coming off of a hard game and loss against Toronto. We knew we had to change things up a bit so the captains and I, along with a few other players, had a meeting after the game and we talked about implementing a new rotation for Rochester. It worked well for us and I think it had a lot to do with our win.

It was also my first time at the helm so I wanted to do as best I could. Honestly, I felt like I could've contributed more and been more vocal about my expectations, but I think I did alright with line calling and timeouts. As a coach, I don't really consider it my job to ensure a win. I think of a coach as more of a role model and leader, someone who will keep you on track with your goals and to help build confidence in the team so that they can go get the job done. As a player, I think that when you have a great coach, someone that you really look up to and admire, it makes you want to work that much harder. So, I think I really do have a long way to go but this was one small step in the right direction.

Congratulations, Sarah!

[Photo via DC Breeze]

RELATED: Sarah Itoh's Breeze tryout (March 2014).

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