When Katie Shields was a a star goalkeeper at Dana Hills High School in California, Kat Mertz came calling. Mertz, then an assistant coach at UCLA, took Katie surfing on her official visit to UCLA, but Shields elected not to follow Kat and become a Bruin. Shields went on to become one of the best players in the history of the Harvard women’s soccer program. Last year, shortly after becoming the Saint Louis University women’s soccer head coach, Mertz again came calling for Shields, although by then it was Coach Shields. Shields left the Northwestern program, where she had been an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, to take the same job at SLU. In December, Kat Mertz took the vacant head coaching job at Oregon.
Shields will not follow Mertz to Oregon, she will instead take over for Mertz. Today, Katie Shields becomes the third head coach in the history of the women’s soccer program at Saint Louis University. This is Shields’ first head coaching position.
Chris May, the Saint Louis University Director of Athletics, had this to say in a release from the school:
“During our search, we engaged in exhaustive communication with National Team coaches, U.S. Soccer officials and NCAA College Cup coaches,” May said. “They were unanimous in their support of Katie Shields as a leader who is ready to be a successful head coach.
Shields has put in her time in the coaching ranks. She was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Harvard for three seasons after her playing days before taking the same position with Northwestern for another two years. She was an assistant coach for the Boston Breakers of Women’s Professional Soccer during the 2009 season under Head Coach Tony DiCicco. DiCicco, a legend in the women’s soccer coaching ranks, went 103-8-8 as head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team and won the 1999 World Cup with the team. Shields’ ties to DiCicco go back to when she was a camper with his SoccerPlus program. She most recently was a Camp Director/Senior Staff Member with the program’s Goalkeeper School from 2006-2011.
DiCicco weighed in on the hire in the SLU Statement with the following:
“Katie Shields has distinguished herself as a master recruiter and one of America’s finest young, talented coaches. No one will be surprised as Katie develops SLU into a program of national significance. She is known for integrity, a tireless work ethic and a wonderful soccer pedigree. Congratulations to Katie and to Saint Louis University.”
Shields had the following to say in the SLU statement:
“I am thrilled and honored to be the head women’s soccer coach at Saint Louis University,” Shields said. “I am grateful to (vice president for student development) Dr. Kent Porterfield, Chris May, and (associate director of athletics) Janet Oberle for believing in me and my vision to lead the SLU women’s soccer program.
“Under the leadership of our President, Father Biondi, Saint Louis University offers a unique combination of academic prestige, top-notch athletic facilities and a wealth of local soccer tradition, providing a world-class experience for our student-athletes.
In 1996, Tim Champion left Lindenwood University to become the first women’s soccer coach for the Billikens. He spent 16 seasons at the helm before being let go in December of 2011. Mertz and her staff were brought in last season and amassed a 5-9-4 record playing without any players they themselves had recruited.
In March of last year Shields was hired at SLU. Mertz had this to say at the time.
“Katie brings with her a wealth of knowledge from her coaching and playing experiences. She also has a great ability to identify talent. I am thrilled to have someone with Katie’s integrity, competitive spirit and compassion join my staff.”
When a new coaching regime comes to a school, players are understandably somewhat wary. These players were recruited by the former staff and had developed a deep bond with them, Shields succeeded in gaining the trust, admiration and “buy-in” of the current players. The returning players for the Billikens were told of Shields’ appointment this morning. Maddie Gebauer, a current Junior at SLU, tweeted this shortly after the announcement and the team’s morning activities:
— Madeleine Gebauer (@madd4youu) January 15, 2013
Shields hit the ground running on the recruiting trail and on February 6th, NCAA’s National Signing Day, her first group of recruits will become Billikens.
Katie won’t be able to relax and let her first head coaching job sink in between now and then, however. She travels to Indianapolis this week for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) National Convention. She isn’t there just to rub elbows though, she will be coaching a field session for goalkeepers.
Upon her return, she will move quickly to get the team ready for the abbreviated spring soccer season, the first in the Katie Shields era of women’s soccer at Saint Louis University.
For more information on Katie Shields and more remarks from some of the top coaches in the game, check out the press release from Saint Louis University.
Brought to you by Mills Apartments