Denise Shilte-Brown on a family picnic (right) with husband Chris (left), son Ethan (far left) and daughter Kenza (far right). PHOTO SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE
In today’s work force, people want things done five minutes ago.
Many people work crazy hours and are almost forced to put their families on the back burner. However, for USF women’s soccer head coach Denise Schilte-Brown and her husband, Chris Brown – a volunteer coach for the USF women’s soccer team – work keeps their family together.
For the two coaches, work has never interfered with their relationship – or their family, as they are the proud parents of two-year-old twins Ethan and Kenza. The coaches are together constantly, which neither of them minds in the least.
“Everybody we talk to is like ‘I could never work with my husband,’ but for us it works really well,” Schilte-Brown said. “I think it’s an advantage because we can talk about work at home and get a lot done.”
For Schilte-Brown and her husband, Chris, coaching soccer is not only their job – it’s sentimental.
“We actually met on a soccer field,” Schilte-Brown said. “We both played for summer teams, and the home field was my college soccer stadium. We would play after each other, and we met after one of our games.”
This was in 1998, and Schilte-Brown was returning to her alma mater, the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC), to begin her first head-coaching job. Schilte-Brown had been serving as an assistant on the University of Tampa’s coaching staff. Returning to Maryland proved to be an important move – both on and off the field.
Schilte-Brown coached two seasons at UMBC, compiling a record of 18-17-1. In 2000, Schilte-Brown was offered the head-coaching job at Virginia Commonwealth University. Chris, who had coaching experience in men’s soccer, was made part of the coaching staff.
“I think that was something that happened through the course of time,” Brown said. “I had done some coaching on the men’s side while I was playing, and so I would help her as an assistant while she was at UMBC. Then, we went to VCU, and I joined the staff full time.”
While at VCU, Schilte-Brown and her husband found success on the field. The coaching duo managed to lead the Rams to a 77-51-7 record over seven seasons. In 2004, the Rams were the Colonial Athletic Association conference champions. They merged two very different styles of coaching to triumph on the field.
“He (Chris) thinks the perfect game is to play 90 minutes of one-touch soccer without making any mistakes,” Schilte-Brown said. “I think that the best way to play is to minimize passes and dribble as many people as you can in 90 minutes, so we definitely blended our styles.”
In 2005, the duo would help lead VCU to its second straight CAA conference title – while posting an unblemished 9-0-2 conference record. The Rams also earned a berth in the NCAA Women’s College Cup, the NCAA championship tournament of women’s soccer. VCU also won its first-ever NCAA tournament game when it beat the Clemson Tigers in the first round of the tournament. However, 2005 would be just as big a year off the field as it was on it for the couple.
With the birth of their twins that year, the Browns had a lot on their plate. However, both coaches consider that both coaching and parenting are labors of love.
“We have a lot of family support, which helps, but it does get difficult,” Brown said. “We actually had our best season after having the kids, but we couldn’t have done it without the support we’ve received from our family.”
“I think that the University has been really supportive too,” Schilte-Brown said. “There are a lot of places that are not ‘family friendly,’ and don’t take into account personal goals. So far, USF has been very welcoming to the twins.”
Both Schilte-Brown and her husband hope to lead USF into the Big East conference tournament and continue their success this season.