Since last May, I have been working with a new soccer club down in Florida, aiming to bring the highest level of training, resources, and structure to the elite female soccer players of the Tallahassee market. It has been truly refreshing to have the ability to paint on a blank canvas. The club leader and founder used to be my supervisor and recruited me as a high-performance (HP) advisor to help her develop an HP team and system. Starting from scratch is as fun as it is challenging, but being a project-driven person, it was right up my alley. 


I started by spending time understanding the local market, the club’s vision and goals (both short- and long-term), the constraints that apply to the model we aim to create, and the population we were targeting (the players). Once I grasped the core idea of what the Tallahassee Reckoning was aiming to become, I proceeded with a needs analysis specific to the HP department. At that point, I looked through the biggest lens possible and created an itemized list of needs per discipline within the HP department. From medical and nutrition, strength and conditioning, sports science, mental health, and others, I assessed the needs as if we had zero constraints. From there, I worked with Ashlee Fontes-Comber, the club’s founder, to discuss each area and decide what was the priority and what was tagged for future growth. 


Just like every startup, you don’t get everything done right away; that would not be smart business, and I fully understand the growth process. We do have a long way to go, but I am truly proud of what we have been able to put together in the last six months. We have implemented a very strong athlete management system that includes both medical and performance data collection to get a comprehensive look at each player. We started working through an exercise programming platform, which allows us to work with our players in any given circumstance. We have brought on a GPS tracking system and technical tracking devices to help us understand our players and their environment a bit better. We also brought in a strength and conditioning coach, a sports scientist, and a nutritionist – and we are finalizing an athletic trainer to work with our players. The biggest positive of building an entire foundation from nothing is that every single staff member is dealing with the learning process at once, and everyone is learning a common system. There are no egos or precedents, and everyone’s personal experience becomes an asset to the foundation of the operating system. Communication has been one of my priorities over the past six months. Establishing various meeting schedules to allow everyone to stay connected and share feedback on how we are progressing. 


Last weekend, I was able to travel down to Tallahassee and spend my first weekend in person with the staff and players. It was a long time coming, and it felt good to see how all this work translates on the ground and the positive impact it has on the players. As we start planning for the spring, we aim to prepare our players to compete in a historic first season in the USL W league. Our goal is to deliver the highest standards of professionalism while making sure the player experience is world-class. Getting this first season right is crucial as it will set a foundation for the ambitious goals of this club. 


The young female soccer players in Tallahassee need a better option for their development, higher standards of training, coaching, and HP professionals to have a true path at the college and professional levels. I believe the Tallahassee Reckoning will become that option in the years to come.