USF head coach to lead new Tampa Bay women’s professional soccer team

Denise Schilte-Brown will take over as head coach this November, giving her time to complete her 16th USF season.

TAMPA, Florida. The new women’s professional soccer team, which is coming to Tampa Bay next year, has announced the appointment of its first head coach.

USF Women’s Football Head Coach Denise Schilte-Brown has been named the first leader of the new club to compete in the USL Super League in August 2024.

Schilte-Brown, who has been with the Bulls since 2007, will take over as head coach for the Tampa Bay team this November, giving her time to complete her 16th USF season.

“I am honored to lead the Tampa Bay Super League First Team and to thank this ownership group for their commitment and investment in women’s professional football,” Schilte-Brown said in a statement. “This team will go down in the history of the sport. My family and I love USF and are incredibly proud of the women’s football program we have created here and the outstanding young women who have played for the Bulls have excelled on the field, graduated and gone on to careers. positively impact their communities and the world.

“It’s hard to leave but I feel good knowing we’ve developed a very strong program and as I’ll be staying in the Bay Area looking forward to a front row seat to watch USF women’s football continue to do well. field.”

Schilte-Brown had impressive seasons with the Bulls.

From 2017 to 2021, she led her team to five consecutive American Athletic Conference championships, and in 2020, the Bulls won both regular season and tournament championships in the same season for the first time in program history.

Schilte-Brown helped USF to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2010 and only missed two postseason conference championships.

“We are thrilled that Denise has chosen to join our club,” Super League Tampa Bay co-owner Darryl Shaw said in a statement. team from the very beginning.

An impressive product of the Bulls, mentored by Schilte-Brown, was Olympic gold medalist and recent USF Hall of Famer inductee Evelyn Wiens.

Wiens won her prestigious medal with Team Canada at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Overall, Schilte-Brown posted a 174-91-41 record with USF.

“We are saddened by Denise’s departure from the USF program, but also excited about her great opportunity to coach the Bay Area’s first women’s professional soccer team,” said USF vice president of athletics Michael Kelly. “Denise has led USF Women’s Football to outstanding conference success, national prominence, and a long line of outstanding student-athletes who excelled at the Bulls and received All-American recognition and numerous conference awards.” Her choice as Tampa Bay’s first Super League head coach speaks volumes not only to her coaching acumen, but to the strength of our program and the heights it has led it to, including winning the conference title for five straight seasons, the All-Americans, conference player of the year and Olympic gold medalist. Kelly said. “We thank Denise for her tremendous service at the University of South Florida and look forward to her final season at the helm with great optimism. We will miss her greatly, but we are also happy to see her flourish professionally right here in Tampa Bay.”

The Tampa Bay Super League also named Sarasota’s Christina Unkel as its first club president, who is a former FIFA referee and NCAA college football athlete.

The new franchise will compete at the highest level of women’s professional football in the United States, and for the first time, the Tampa Bay region will feature a top-level women’s professional sports team.

With the approval of US Soccer as a division one league, the USL Super League will be equivalent to other professional sports leagues around the world and will seek to attract international players who have competed in the Women’s World Cup and the Olympics.

As the new league plans to run its season from autumn to spring, all players will still be able to represent their national teams while competing in the league.

The Tampa Bay-based team will decide on its name, colors and crest later this summer after receiving input from an advisory board made up of community voices and football fans, formed to provide guidance on building connections with the region and making a positive impact.

A temporary site for the first season is also to be determined until a permanent football stadium is built, which will also be used as a year-round venue for a wide range of activities, including opportunities for youth and community football leagues and non-football events.

Sports enthusiasts from across the area can now pay a $24 per person membership deposit for priority accommodation and a choice of when passes become available. To find out more click here.

The USL Super League will feature 10 to 12 teams with other confirmed host cities including Charlotte, NC; Dallas/Fort Worth; Lexington, Kentucky; Phoenix; Spokane, Washington; Tucson, Arizona, and Washington, DC. Additional franchises will be announced at a later date.

The Super League also has plans for five more franchises that will not be in the original group. It will be in Oakland, California; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Florida and Madison, Wisconsin.

The new league said it hoped to close the “opportunity gap” between men’s and women’s professional football in the United States. There are over 100 men’s professional teams compared to 12 women’s teams.

The Tampa Bay area is home to three football organizations, two of which are professional clubs, the USL Championship’s Tampa Bay Rowdies and NISL’s Tampa Bay Strikers, and the other is a semi-pro team, the USL League Two of St. Petersburg F.C.

Schilte-Brown and her new team hope to create a winning culture that has been replicated not only by the Rowdies and Strikers last year, but by other professional sports teams in the Tampa Bay region such as the Rays, Lightning and Buccaneers.

To learn more about the Tampa Bay Super League, click here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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