Lady Silverswords Hot On Recruiting Local Soccer Prospects
Before Chaminade built a reputation for competing with the nation’s best men in basketball, it filled its roster with local players.
Women’s soccer head coach Michelle Richardson is of that same mindset as she hits the recruiting trail this month. Just days from finishing her first season, she’s putting out the word: Locals looking to play beyond high school could be the right fit at CUH.
“Our mission at Chaminade is to create a team of mostly local athletes,” Richardson said. “There are a lot of kids here who don’t want to go away for school and may want to keep playing soccer.”
The soccer program is still relatively new after its sixth season, but while there’s only a limited amount of athletic scholarship money, it offers other options for a student-athlete to cover costs, notably, “academic scholarship money, Hawaii State student-athlete (funds) and Native Hawaiian grants.”
Richardson was tapped to lead the program following a highly successful run at Kalani High, where she guided the Falcons to back-to-back OIA East titles in 2009 and 2010. The team also was the OIA Red runner-up in 2010 and went on to finish third at that year’s state DI tournament.
Richardson has nearly 20 years of coaching at various levels, including 14 as a head coach in Hawaii and Northern California. As a player at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, she was a four-year letter-winner and the Gaels’ team captain as a senior. Her coaching staff here also has assistants Conor Whittaker, Ambree Ako and Kanani Taaca.
“We’re looking for players at all positions on the field. We’re looking for good student-athletes, first. They’re going to college to receive an education, first. We want kids who are strong academically and who have strong goals, academically. We also really like kids who want to work hard because soccer is a challenging sport. We look for players with good basic skills who want to make themselves better players. They also have an opportunity to make a huge difference here.”
The program has indeed struggled in the win-loss column while finding its way. On Halloween, for example, the Silverswords ended a 43-match winless streak with a 1-0 win over Holy Names University on Saint Louis Field.
“It was pretty amazing,” she said. “It was also a relief for our players that their hard work had paid off and that they were able to apply everything we’d instilled in them. We’d been so close in so many games, that finally getting past that was cathartic. It was also a great gift for our seniors.”
Transition issues usually come up in a coach’s first year, but Richardson found a close-knit soccer community among the other Hawaii schools as well as within the PacWest.
“Everyone was very encouraging, and I’m sure that’s not normal in inter-collegiate athletics, but the soccer community in Hawaii is different. That made the transition easier.”