Women’s’ sports are often overlooked in both college and national-level athletics.
At USF, though, women’s soccer coach Denise Schilte-Brown is seen in high regard due to her long-term successful tenure.
Her 17-season stint has come to an end and she is moving on to her next endeavor as the new coach for Tampa Bay’s first USL women’s team.
It leaves behind the question of who will continue the legacy she has built as a coach.
Deciding on a current assistant coach would be the best option over a new hire because they have already experienced Schilte-Brown’s coaching style first-hand.
The best selection of the three coaches would be associate coach Chris Brown. He has worked with Schilte-Brown even before her tenure at USF.
Women’s soccer may not receive the same national attention as football, but USF needs to ensure the new coach continues to enforce the principles of Schilte-Brown. Choosing a current assistant coach is the way to do this.
Although no coach has been confirmed yet, Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly said a potential prospect for this position is an assistant coach in the program.
“There’s a lot of folks with head coaching experience that are interested [in the position],” Kelly said. “We’ve got a great assistant coach on our staff now that is certainly [being] highly considered.”
Not only is Schilte-Brown the second head coach the program has had since its inaugural season in 1995, she is also the only woman head coach for the program.
On paper, Schilte-Brown has left a resume of accomplishments at USF. She has built the women’s soccer program into a powerhouse – and Brown was with her in every step.
The two of them started their coaching tenure together during Schilte-Brown’s time at Virginia Common-Wealth University in 2000 where she was the head coach. Brown followed suit and was named the co-head coach in 2001 after they married.
Joining USF in 2007, Brown helped Schilte-Brown guide the Bulls to all its NCAA and ACC appearances, and has been with South Florida through every triumph and loss.
Schilte-Brown has said that her three core values are developing players, providing post-USF opportunities and keeping the love for the sport alive.
She has succeeded in all these goals. Many of her alumni players are still in contact with her while others have been scouted to play professional-level soccer, such as Evelyne Viens, who was recently inducted into the 2023 USF Athletics Hall of Fame.
Current players have also stated that Schilte-Brown has instilled confidence in them both as players and off the field in their day-to-day lives.
Her players see her in high regard and respect her, so they’ll adapt better with Brown as a head coach since he already understands the ins and outs of the program.
Valuing relationships was key in the womens’ soccer program’s success. Relationships were also a driving factor in USF’s mens’ basketball hire Amir Abdur-Rahim, Kelly said.
Abdur-Rahim’s hiring was influenced by a need to rebuild a program from the ground up. The requirements for the women’s soccer program are different, as the new hire must focus on continuing the successful program Schilte-Brown has left.
Even if a new hire could bring a new perspective to the team, it runs the risk of current players leaving the program if the culture strays too far from the principles that contributed to the team’s success.
Hiring a new coach would risk USF losing these engrained principles, potentially jeopardizing the structure she has built in the past 17 years.
Schilte-Brown has gone above and beyond establishing the women’s soccer program at USF, and it shows both statistically and emotionally. Brown would be a perfect option to continue this success since technical coaching is only one half of a team’s success.