Players on the U.S. women’s national team reflected on meeting new head coach Emma Hayes on Wednesday, with Trinity Rodman calling the introduction “great.”
Hayes flew to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to meet with the team ahead of their final friendlies of the year. She won’t stay for the games, but in just two days, she made a impression. Hayes, currently the head coach of Chelsea, won’t join the USWNT until Chelsea’s season ends in May 2024.
“She’s amazing so far,” forward Rodman said. “Obviously, it’s only been two days. So there’s only so much you can find out about a person and I’d never met her before. So initial impressions have been really good.”
“First impressions of Emma are very welcoming, exciting and eager to really be a part of this team and get to work,” defender Emily Fox said. “So I’m really excited to have her as a coach and I know that we’re all gonna learn a lot from her.”
To Rodman, the biggest priority over the coming months will be Hayes building relationships with the U.S. players despite not physically being around the team. Interim coach Twila Kilgore will serve that role in Hayes’ absence.
“I think the biggest thing with her coming in is getting to know us as players because she’s not going to be able to build the foundation or start anything with us if she doesn’t really get to know us as people and know our characteristics on and off the field,” Rodman said.
But Hayes has also communicated to the players that she doesn’t want them to stray from their identities, and Rodman has heard from her peers that Hayes lives up to that standard.
“She wants us to be the players that we came into these camps as. She doesn’t want us molded into something else. She doesn’t want to stray away from who we are,” Rodman said.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people who have known her and have been coached by her, so I heard all good things. The relationships are always good with her. The coaching is amazing. She wants to win, but she also caters to what the players needs are, not just what her needs are to win.”
Hayes will also bring a much-needed international perspective to the USWNT. As the sport continues to grow and evolve abroad, some have questioned whether the U.S. has adjusted accordingly after their worst-finish ever at a World Cup in 2023. Hayes’ experience coaching in the Women’s Super League and in the U.S., with the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars, makes her a unique fit for the squad.
“With this team, we’ve always been disruptors and trying to break barriers and just get better and better,” Fox said. “I think with the hiring of Emma, that just proves it once again. … First impressions, just really excited to have her because I think she brings in a different perspective. But she also has those similarities and always wanting to win, always wanting to disrupt, push for more and be the best.”