When the men’s soccer teams of New York University and the University of Chicago face off in the Bronx on Friday, it will mark a rare occasion in college sports history: an NCAA men’s sporting event in which both teams are coached by women.
Kim Wyant, the first goalkeeper to play an international game for the U.S. women’s national team, served as an assistant coach on the NYU women’s team before the was hired to head up the men’s program in 2015. She has since led the Violets to five postseason appearances.
Her opponent, Julianne Sitch, similarly served as an assistant coach on the Chicago women’s team before taking over the men’s program in April. She consulted with Wyant by phone before she took the job.
“Prior to her, there wasn’t any other women coaching and leading men’s teams,” Sitch told The New York Times. “She was obviously a positive influence and role model.”
Only about 5 percent of NCAA men’s sports team have women as head coaches, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education.
The two who are preparing their players for Friday’s match have more pressing things to think about than making history.
“It will be historic, it will be special,” Wyant told the Times. “But our main focus right here is on trying to beat a really good team.”