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Mark Krikorian recently joined the Washington Spirit as President of Soccer Operations. A decorated head coach at Florida State, Krikorian led the Seminoles for 17 seasons before coming to the nation’s capital. We sat down with the new President to pick his brain and ask him about his plans for the Spirit.
Q: After 17 years coaching college soccer, what drew you back to the professional game?
A: Michele Kang. I thought Michele was very compelling when I was able to sit down with her and hear about the vision that she has for the Washington Spirit and the direction she’s interested in taking the club and professional women’s soccer as a whole. Our conversation interested me and really excited me for the new challenge.
Q: What are some challenges you look forward to taking on as you transition from a coaching role to a front office role?
A: There’s a lot for me to learn but the modern college game has certainly prepared me for this role. So many of us college coaches have had to manage various areas of our organizations to ensure the athletes have all of their needs met. In some ways, it’s very similar here: maintaining a team of coaches, a team of administrative staff, and a team of support staff to make sure the players have everything they need. The NWSL and NCAA are similar in some ways and different in many others ways. I’m looking forward to the challenge.
Q: Do you have a specific principle or maxim that you plan to use as a guide in your management of the club? If so, what is it?
A: The players always come first. At the end of the day, what’s in the best interest of the players is what’s in the best interest of the club. We’re going to make this an even more player-friendly environment, we’re going to put together the best medical team we can to complement what currently exists, and we’re going to make sure that all areas of the club that affect player performance are dealt with in the most professional manner possible to give our players the best environment to be their best selves.
Q: What are you looking forward to about reuniting with two of your former Seminoles?
A: Reconnecting with them has been fantastic. I had the chance to coach a lot of players who have since come into the league and I look forward to seeing all of them, but being here with Tori and Jamia is special. It’s great to be able to catch up, hear about their families, and see how they’ve continued to mature and grow into absolutely fantastic young women. I look forward to seeing all the other friendly faces that I shared time with in Tallahassee and rooting for them as they continue to be successful.
Q: Other than a successful title defense, what goals do you have for the club this season?
A: I believe in respecting the process and will lay out a vision for the future once I have done a full assessment of the club.
Q: As a longtime women’s soccer coach, what are your thoughts regarding the trajectory of the sport and its rising popularity?
A: It’s fantastic to see. If I think back over the 35-40 years I’ve been coaching or at least involved in the game, the progress has been incredible. Witnessing the commitment of so many people to supporting, growing, and developing women’s sport, not just soccer, it seems that the sky’s the limit. I think it will continue to grow and hopefully we continue to see investment from the media to help drive that continued growth in visibility.
Q: Where do you see the Spirit as a club and the league as a whole in five years?
A: The possibilities are endless. Here in Washington, I think the goal is to continue to grow and develop the club to be the best it can be. In this league, we have so many of the world’s best players and for me, it’s about continuing to grow the quality across the board. If we keep that up, the league grows, the teams grow, everything gets bigger and better and the U.S. can continue to make a great impression on the world of women’s soccer.