When Denise Reddy took the head coaching job at Sky Blue FC she was not only returning to the club she helped found in 2008. Denise Reddy was coming home to New Jersey.
“I don’t feel like this is a job and I need to do really well so I can move on to the next best thing. That’s not how I look at it,” Reddy said during a recent phone interview. “This is home for me. This is something that is personal for me.”
Reddy played her college soccer for Rutgers on the same Yurcak Field pitch that Sky Blue calls home. She was the founding coach of the team in 2008, the season prior to WPS. The years in between have seen her travel as an assistant coach in Chicago, a head coach in Sweden, and for the last two seasons an assistant with the Washington Spirit. Those two seasons in Washington could not have been more different – the 2016 team nearly won both the Shield and NWSL Championship. The 2017 season became a youth movement and the Spirit finished last.
“Of course you learn a lot of things that are important because results come and go—you’re top of the table, you’re bottom of the table—there’s things that you learn that no matter the result they are the important factors that you can’t let go of. You have to make sure they’re hit often. So I’ve learned plenty. You also learn a lot about character and character is something that along with ability goes a long way – especially in this league.”
Having coached in Europe, Reddy is well versed in the differences from NWSL where parity is queen to most of the leagues across the Atlantic when a few teams dominate and the others are left for scraps. To that end she will be looking to instill a certain style into Sky Blue, and that style will take priority over immediate results.
“I want this to be something that is long lasting and that has an identity that people can relate to,” Reddy, who declined any comments about any individual player, said of her discussions with them so far. “Being a part of that is being a part of something bigger than anything else. That’s kind of what I try to relay when I speak to players.”
In terms of what Reddy is trying to build at Sky Blue, she said creating a style that resonates each day and each week is the ultimate goal.
“A playing style, you can say identity you can use other words, but I want them to feel like there is a style of play that is home base. I guess you can call that an identity. This is who we are. I don’t want it to have to do with numbers. I don’t want to say well is that 4-3-3 or a 3-back or whatever, I want it to have to do with a style of play.
“This style of play is both sides of the ball. Both our attack and defense is going to be a style of play down to small tactical details that I’m not going to go into now. “
Like many coaches, Reddy prefers to the week-to-week demands of NWSL over the Euro-domination style, and she believes the demands of NWSL make it all the more important to develop that style to which everyone can fall back on.
“This league is so fast and so demanding that I feel for teams to be successful having a style of play where there is a possession-oriented style of play, it’s extremely hard to be successful if there is not a lot of time and energy put into that. I think really for longevity you need some sort of style that everyone can identify. And then we start to add in the numbers, the formations around that.”