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Changing the narrative: Three women coaches in the Men’s Soccer Program

In order from left to right: Soccer coaches Sara-Beth Badalamente, Suzanne Dickie, and Angela Heflin. Photo courtesy of Badalamente.

Most people when they think about sports, they think about the major sports leagues like the NFL or NBA.  All the coaching staff in those leagues are predominantly male with very few women with any type of job in those leagues. The only times we often see women coaching in sports is in female dominated sports and still, many men coach teams who are competing in those sports. The Huron Men’s Soccer program changed the script this year with three of the four head coaches in their soccer program being female–Sara-Beth Badalamente, Suzanne Dickie, and Angela Heflin.

“We had our best year to date since I joined the coaching staff at Huron in 2016,” Varsity head coach Luis Gomez-Dominguez. “All four teams in our program had a successful season on the field with all teams having a winning record and our Varsity team winning the very competitive SEC Red Division.”

The four full teams in the Huron soccer program are the Freshman team, the Junior Varsity White team, the Junior Varsity Green team, and the Varsity team. The Freshman team is coached by Badalamente, the JV White team is coached by Dickie, the JV Green team is coached by Heflin, and the Varsity team is coached by Gomez-Dominguez and assisted by Erik Beehler who is also the goalkeeper coach.   

A few years ago, there were only two female coaches at the Varsity level in the state (including Dickie) for men’s soccer, but now this is starting to evolve.  A sport that most people consider to be male dominated is finally changing and slowly becoming more equal.  According to, one-third of high school coaches are female now for all high school sports.

JV White coach Dickie just completed her first year coaching in the program but had prior coaching experience in the Skyline women’s and men’s soccer program.   

“To have three female coaches in one program demonstrates how times are changing and how progressive Huron and Coach Luis are,” Dickie said.  “I hope that it starts a trend.”

Freshman coach Badalamente has been in the program for three years now and has coached the freshman team all three of those years.  Badalamente also coached the women’s JV soccer squad before coming to the men’s program for seven years. Prior to that, she coached men’s and women’s soccer in Grand Ledge for 8 years. 

 “I think that Luis recruited coaches specifically to help push this agenda of the whole player, not just on the pitch, in the real world too,” Badalamente said. “I think that there’s a different approach to the game by the players based on this mindset created by the coaches.”

Dickie also feels that the program at Huron does a great job of creating a family type atmosphere and feels that all teams and coaches are connected in one way or another to each other.  She also loves the fact that the program goals are not just centered around winning games. The program focuses heavily on player development and creating solid relationships along the way with your teammates.  

Dickie feels that having a female coach can change player’s views on the game and change the way they play for the better.  Each coach has a slightly different view on the game and that feels that women coaches give a great perspective to all players that could be just a little different from a male coach.

 “Growing up, I played soccer, basketball, and volleyball year round.  I always had male coaches and it wasn’t until I played varsity soccer at MSU that I ever had a female coach.    Female coaches bring a different dynamic and are so important for all athletes,” Dickie said.

Badalamente also feels that female coaches are able to relate to players in a different manner that can be very beneficial to them.  She feels that although coaches of the same sport may coach similar things, female coaches are different from male coaches.

Having females there has changed so much for how we communicate and how we talk to players,” Badalamente said.  “And I’m not saying this to be putting anybody down or saying that females and males are so different, but in essence, like through coaching, I have found that there’s a different mentality of how we approach our players.”

Dickie feels that both other female coaches in the program are doing a great job and bring a lot to the program.  She feels that Badalamente is great at getting the Freshman boys interested in the program and brings so much energy to the table.

“Coach Badalamente’s role is so important as the freshman coach because she is the first experience many boys have in the program and is the reason why boys buy into the program,” Dickie said.  “She brings so much enthusiasm to the program and she is our pipeline for having such a successful program.”

JV Green coach Heflin is finishing up her second year coaching in the program and has coached both JV White, and JV Green.  Heflin is also involved in the women’s soccer program as an assistant coach for the Varsity team. Dickie feels that Heflin has great knowledge of the game and is a very qualified coach.  She thinks that Heflin does a great job of developing players so that they are ready for varsity level soccer.  Heflin has a C license which is designed for preparing you to coach players between the ages of eleven years old and 18 years old at a high level.

“She has a C license which is the same as my college coach, super highly qualified.  Her knowledge of X’s and O’s for the game is remarkable.  She is always striving to be better, pushing her players to be better and it shows in the success of her teams,” Dickie said.

 Just as we have seen the US Women’s National team earn equal pay in their sport, this is a parallel example as to how women are being more equal in the sport of soccer.  Women are slowly becoming more and more involved in the soccer world and soon enough, soccer will be thought of much less of a predominantly men’s sport.  This is how Huron is leading the way and doing their part as we slowly work towards equality.


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About the Contributor
Rowan Grenier, Sports Editor
Rowan is currently in 11th grade and has been part of the Huron Emery for 2 years and is a sports editor.  Rowan plays soccer and lacrosse on the varsity teams for the Huron River Rats and in his free time he likes golfing and hanging out with friends. Rowan’s favorite movie is Ace Ventura and his favorite flavor of ice cream is mango.  
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