Behind every Keene State College alumni there is a story, and this definitely holds true for 1993 KSC alumni Alison Foley.
Foley said after graduating college she never thought coaching would be her long-term profession.
However, after going down to James Madison University (JMU) as a graduate assistant soccer coach with a degree in psychology, under the leadership of former Owls soccer coach Dave Lombardo, she fell in love with
coaching. “He had said, ‘This can actually be your full-time job.’ And I’ve never looked back since 1994,” Foley said.
Foley, who is now a women’s soccer coach at Boston College and currently holds the record for the most wins of a female coach at the college, has now chosen to co-author a book called, “How to Coach Girls.”
Foley said she chose to write the book because, after looking at high school statistics relating to sports, she found it disturbing how many middle school girls were dropping out of teams and choosing not to play sports anymore.
Foley added that many of them reported that they were not having fun or were just not motivated to stick with sports. “This really urged me to to look a little closer at why this was happening and to see, with my experiences, that maybe I could help,” Foley said.
A vital component to any athlete’s growth and perspective of a sport relates to the coaching staff significantly. With guidance, motivation, and encouragement, an athlete can reach their full potential and thrive.
Foley said she believes positivity is key. Foley hopes that each coach who reads the book will be able to find tips that will help create a positive team environment, solve some of the common issues that often develop on women’s teams, and eventually help each coach navigate through the adversities.
Foley’s advice and tips come from long-term experience and struggles that she has faced and overcome in her career.
Foley said she has seen girls at all different levels stress out, and a lot of that stress connected to parental involvement or pressure.
“I’ve recognized the importance of setting boundaries for parents,” Foley said. There is a chapter in the book Foley specifically dedicated to coaches setting a “Parent Code of Conduct,” which she thinks will be helpful and necessary. “Being aware that kids feel a lot more social pressure and helping them work through that is key as well,” Foley added.After being aware of outside influences on each athlete, Foley encourages them when on the field and in practice.
“I talk to a lot of my players regardless of age about leadership and personal development. I think you have to be emotional strong before you are mentally or physically strong,” Foley said.
Foley added that some staff at Boston College started a leadership academy, where they discuss leading one another, impacting their culture and making a change in their community.
“I really love empowering girls and having them believe they can make a difference,” Foley said.
With that love comes a great coaching technique, which encourages her female athletes.
“A coach of female athletes has the influence to build self-esteem and confidence. Utilizing this opportunity can change a girl’s approach to how she will view herself and her abilities in so many areas of her life,” Foley added.
Foley’s former roommate Janel Gerrior, who now goes by the name of Janel Stevenson, said that she wasn’t surprised to hear that Foley was writing a coaching book.
“She has been an inspiration to all female athletes for as long as I have known her. It is important she share her expertise with the world,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson added that Foley has incredible interpersonal skills as well and knows how to get the most out of her athletes.
Looking back at Foley’s journey, Stevenson said she knew that Foley was destined to be successful as a result of all the hard work and her intense, yet caring personality.
“Alison was an inspired leader by example. She is the hardest working person I know. On the field, she always gave 100 percent in games and practice. Off the field, she was always giving 100 percent in her studies. Everyone looked up to her,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson hopes to see the book accomplish a better understanding of female athletes and how to help them reach their potential.
“My twin sister Jul and I played and roomed with Alison during our time at Keene State and we have nothing but wonderful memories. She is the best and I am so proud of all she has accomplished in her personal and professional career,” Stevenson said.
Foley’s other former roommate Jul Gerrior was unable to comment in time for publication.
Foley’s book was released in the beginning of March and includes all kinds of tips for parents, coaches and female athletes.
Foley said the most important thing for an athlete is to always keep trying, even when facing struggles or low points. “Never give up. In times that you see yourself failing or not good enough, view it as a moment of challenge. Even if you didn’t get the exact outcome you wanted if you faced the challenge and believed you could work through it, you have won,” Foley said.
Caroline Perry can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org