After winning the AAC tournament and making it to the third round of the NCAA tournament last season, USF women’s soccer coach Denise Schilte-Brown is facing numerous challenges in the offseason.
Perhaps the most daunting challenge is finding ample space to work at home in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I don’t have a home office. I’ve seemed to take over the kitchen and I think that drives my family a little bit crazy because that’s like a central area for us,” she said. “You kind of feel trapped in our offices or our bedroom and you’re in that room for hours at a time.
“Sometimes it can be a little suffocating.”
On top of the not-so-ideal space situation, the work is piling up, but there has been some relief, according to Schilte-Brown.
“Work has kept me busy in different ways, ways you wouldn’t expect. In terms of my personal life, we bought a Jet Ski,” she said. “We’ve been bringing our twins and our family out there and trying to enjoy the water.”
Work has picked up, however, especially as the season edges closer.
One facet of her responsibilities is recruiting, which has been crucial considering the impact the senior class had on the team last season.
A few of those seniors — Evelyne Viens, Andrea Hauksdottir and Aubrey Megrath — combined for 34 goals and 19 assists last season.
“It’s been hard emotionally to break from that senior class,” Schilte-Brown said. “We were so connected to them and the ending of their careers hit during this pandemic.”
Despite the gaps left behind by the departed senior class, the focus is now on building up the new recruits. Nine recruits were brought in across November and April, and each comes with either international or youth academy experience.
The newcomers bring much more than just one thing to the table, according to Schilte-Brown.
“There isn’t one thing that they all bring,” she said. “It’s such a diverse group. I wouldn’t just say it’s their athleticism, technical ability or their mind for the game. It’s diverse across the board.”
Although there will be a new style of play and faces on the field this season, the essence of the team will remain the same, according to Schilte-Brown.
“System of play will be different, the way we score goals will be different and the way we defend will be different but we still will have our USF identity,” she said. “Maybe they’re a different style player. There’ll be just as talented but not the same player.”
The goal isn’t to have players fill shoes. It’s to have players — existing and new — adopt different roles and grow.
“All the seniors have left their mark, but it is exciting to see the sophomores, juniors and freshmen step up,” Schilte-Brown said.
“I think they’re ready to take some of that limelight, and I am ready to see some freshmen that will really impress us.”
For the full conversation with Denise Schilte-Brown, watch The Oracle Sports Podcast with Nolan Brown and Hannah Halili, which premieres Monday.