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In addition to increasing opportunities for female coaches in the game, the mentorship program is designed to proactively develop careers, create a coaching pipeline, and provide a valuable professional network.
The four applicants selected to participate in the program will be partnered with a Spirit coach as a mentor from August 2023 – July 2024 and will receive approximately 150 hours of mentorship. Throughout the program, mentees will:
1. Develop a broad tactical understanding of soccer specific tactics
2. Be introduced to various technologies that are revolutionizing the game
3. Gain insight into current and innovative Performance and Strength & Conditioning methodology
4. Learn and work through opponent analysis and game preparation.
CLUB: DC SCORES
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.
CLUB: Alexandria Soccer Association
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.
CLUB: Player Progression Academy
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.
Angela Salem joined the Washington Spirit staff as an assistant coach in the Spring of 2022.
Salem spent 12 years in the professional game, including stops in various leagues in the United States, Australia and Finland. Most recently, Salem spent four seasons with the Portland Thorns. In 2021, she helped the Thorns to the NWSL Challenge Cup, the NWSL Shield, and the International Champions Cup. She was also named a finalist for the NWSL Most Valuable Player award and a member of the NWSL Best XI.
While she played much of her NWSL career in Portland, she spent a season with the Spirit in 2015.
Mami Yamaguchi joined the Washington Spirit as as Assistant Coach/Player Development Coach in 2023 after most recently serving as an assistant coach with Detroit City FC.
Originally from Nishitokyo, Japan, Yamaguchi appeared in 18 matches for the Japan Women’s National Team, scoring eight goals. She played professionally for over a decade across top-tier leagues in Japan, the United States and Sweden, appearing in over 130 club matches.
Prior to turning pro, Yamaguchi played three seasons at Florida State University, winning college soccer’s most prestigious award, the MAC Hermann Trophy, in 2007.
Morinao Imaizumi joined the Washington Spirit as Player Development Coach in November 2022 after a previous stint with the Chicago Red Stars.
Prior to coaching in the NWSL, Imaizumi spent roughly a decade a member of Spirit President Mark Krikorian’s coaching staff at Florida State University.
He also served as the youth development head coach at the Japan Football Association (JFA), later becoming the assistant director of coaching education at the JFA. Additionally, Imaizumi has been the head coach of multiple Japanese youth national teams and as an assistant coach for the senior team, including at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.