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Casey Stoney: ‘A player should feel safe in any environment they go into’

Casey Stoney, head coach of the San Diego Wave, watches the team warm up. (Ira L. Black/Getty Images)

San Diego Wave FC head coach Casey Stoney is speaking out on the coaching standards in the NWSL.

“We’re here to facilitate and develop players,” Stoney said during a press conference ahead of San Diego’s Sunday match. “We’re not here to scream, shout, and bawl at them.”

Responding to a question from womenkickballs, Stoney talked about her unique experience as a player and manager in England before assuming a head coaching position in the NWSL.

“We all know the stories that have come out of this league that are completely unacceptable that players should never ever have to face and go through,” said Stoney. “Players have different challenges in England that they still shouldn’t have to go through.”

Last year marked a watershed moment for the NWSL, with a series of coaches fired for alleged abuse. The reckoning was spurred by a report in The Athletic detailing accounts of sexual coercion against North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley. NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird, among others, stepped down in the wake of the scandal, while players demanded better protections in the league’s inaugural collective bargaining agreement.

“All I can hope is that we continue to have background checks on all coaches, that clubs do their due diligence on their staff, that they are resourced to the very highest level in terms of training facilities, medical care and also attitudes toward players,” Stoney added. “A player should feel safe in any environment that they go into, and my hope is that we have a safe environment that can be psychologically safe, physically safe, medically safe for the players.”

Stoney’s holistic, player-focused philosophy has paid off on the pitch, with her expansion club taking the NWSL by storm. The Wave currently sits atop the league standings, level in points with the Portland Thorns through 14 matches played.

Alex Morgan appears revitalized under Stoney, with the 33-year-old in the form of her career, leading the league with 11 goals scored on the season. Defender Naomi Girma and midfielder Taylor Konieck have also shone under Stoney, earning call-ups to the USWNT for the Concacaf W Championship.

Boasting an impressive 1.4 goals per match while only conceding 0.8, Stoney has put together a disciplined side that is in the running for the league title in its maiden NWSL season.

“We move into a new stadium on the 17th of September that we can get record crowds every single week. We can bring huge crowds in,” said Stoney. “We continue to grow this game because it can do so much for not only women but for society.”