Washington Spirit Announces Inaugural Female Coaching Mentorship Class

Washington Spirit  |   October 31, 2023
Washington Spirit Announces Inaugural Female Coaching Mentorship Class Featured Image

Three local coaches to receive unique development opportunities


Washington, D.C. (10/31/2023) – The Washington Spirit has announced the club’s inaugural coaching mentorship class. This unique professional development opportunity is designed to elevate and support female soccer coaches in the Washington, D.C. region. The Spirit selected next generation coaches Madeleine DiFolco, Saede Eifrig and Clare Roche from an impressive applicant pool. Each selected mentee demonstrated promising coaching potential, open-minded curiosity, and a strong ambition to innovate for the future of the sport.


“This program helps bring to life our club vision to create access and opportunity for the next generation,” said Mark Krikorian, Washington Spirit President of Soccer Operations. “The selected mentees will provide a positive impact on our organization as they hone their tactical and leadership skills.”


Meet the Mentees:

Madeleine DiFolco is in the midst of her youth coaching tenure with the Alexandria Soccer Association Junior Academy. DiFolco has spent the past two years guiding young players through the formative years of their athletic careers. With her experience at the youth soccer level, DiFolco knows first-hand how important it is for young girls to see women in coaching positions. She names “growth and resilience” as two of her key coaching principles. She looks to further develop the ability to facilitate continuous player improvement while impressing the importance of various physical and mental skills on and off the field to one’s athletic career. DiFolco studied psychology at James Madison University in Virginia.


Saede Eifrig currently manages DC SCORES programs while earning her U.S. Soccer Federation D-class coaching license. Eifrig has also been coaching youth soccer in the DC area for over two years, having led various youth teams at The Player Progression Academy and Washington Capital United. Eifrig is interested in learning about a wide range of coaching methodologies and how to tailor technical skill development plans for each player. She hopes to observe a range of approaches to develop her own blend of coaching styles. One point of emphasis in Eifrig’s coaching philosophy is individuality and how to balance encouraging a team identity while maintaining players’ own identities. Prior to her coaching career, Eifrig played at Haverford College in Pennsylvania.


Clare Roche is an experienced youth academy coach and former collegiate soccer player. Roche has led the Player Progression Academy’s 2010 Green Girls team to recent success, leading them to a top five ranking in Maryland and a finals appearance in the Maryland State Cup this year. Roche feels that it is important for young players to have female role models in sports leadership positions, pointing to her own positive experience and encouragement playing for a female head coach at George Washington University. Additionally, she is committed to promoting a focus on individual development both on and off the field while ensuring a love of the game. One tenet of coaching that Roche feels strongly about is the players’ dedication to success on the field should be mirrored by a dedication to excellence from a coaching staff.


The Spirit’s new mentorship program aims to elevate and support female soccer coaches in the Washington, D.C. area. The three participants will work closely with Assistant Coach Angela Salem, Assistant Coach/Player Development Coach Mami Yamaguchi, and Player Development Coach Morinao Imaizumi gaining approximately 150 hours of experience in women’s soccer coaching over the next 12 months.


DiFolco, Eifrig and Roche will go through a highly personalized program with their Spirit mentors. These hands-on programs will help each mentee develop a broad understanding of soccer-specific tactics, explore technologies that are revolutionizing the game, gain insight into performance and strength & conditioning methodologies, and work through opponent analysis and game preparation. In covering all aspects of coaching professional soccer, each mentee will participate in a unique process of mentorship that fits their respective strengths and addresses their specific interests.


In 2024 all home matches will take place at Audi Field in Buzzard Point, ensuring players and fans alike have access to a facility befitting a professional club. Fans can secure tickets to all home matches in 2024 with a season membership.


About The Washington Spirit

The Washington Spirit is the professional women’s soccer team based at Segra Field in Leesburg, Virginia and Audi Field in Washington, D.C. Launched in 2012, the Spirit play in the National Women’s Soccer League, the premier women’s soccer competition in North America. For more information about the Spirit, visit www.WashingtonSpirit.com, follow the club on Twitter @WashSpirit and on Facebook at facebook.com/washingtonspirit.

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