The Seeds of Change Are Planted In The OUA With Ontario Tech’s Audra Sherman
Story by Enrique Domingo – Post Coach June 22, 2022
To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly. – Henri Bergson
Most soccer players who transition from a career on the pitch to a career on the sidelines often decide to take such a path because of their memories as a player, the legacy that they left behind and are trying to extend from the sidelines. But, unlike other coaches, Audra Sherman’s ambition to transition from the pitch to the sidelines comes from her bad experiences.
“I’ve had great moments in the game, however I have faced many challenging experiences both as a player and coach… it comes down to intent and action for me. As a player, some of the ways I was treated made me question, there has to be a better way” Sherman said. One of her objectives as a coach is to be different than what she experienced, and taking her knowledge from a player’s perspective allowed her to understand how some of her former coaches came up with decisions and how they applied them.
As the third female to be awarded a Canadian Soccer “A” License, Sherman spent six years with Ottawa Fury FC as the director and head coach of the Elite Girls Academy. Prior to coaching, Sherman was a member of Canada Soccer’s national program from 1995-97 followed by time with Clemson University from 1998-00. Sherman played at Hofstra University from 2000-02 (pictured to the right), before spending five seasons playing professionally in the USL W-League.
Coaching is about knowledge of the game, how you can adapt to certain occasions and how can you prove to players and others how someone was able to get to that level. But, in the case of female coaches, the stakes are higher and they require a lot more credibility.
According to Sherman, the reality is those female coaches have to prove their knowledge and skills as well as their ability to connect and transmit a message or order in an effective way to the players. Having experience as a player has also become an asset in Sherman’s “Yes, I think the player experience does play a factor, but you still have to develop as a coach and have to transition from the player mindset to a coaching mindset and become a teacher of the game,” said Sherman.
As she embarked on a new chapter as Head Coach of Ontario Tech’s Women’s soccer program last year, Audra spoke on the importance of implementing a certain style of play for the team rather than figuring out a style of play based on the upcoming recruiting class.
During her first season with the Ridgebacks, Sherman decided to invest her first year creating a team’s blueprint based on the principles and tactics of Spanish soccer.
Engraving a specific style of play at a post-secondary level is no easy task due to the irregular number of graduating student-athletes and incoming recruits, “it’s challenging at a university level, because recruitment goes beyond just a player’s profile on the field. Therefore recruiting student-athletes that fit a specific profile is not always realistic. Some players come with specific habits, rather than breaking these habits, we focus on creating new habits which takes patience and time to set in,” Sherman said.
Introducing and adapting players into a new style of play is based upon “what the coach and team are willing to give up to make it happen.”
Despite the differences and the many different ways that soccer is played in Canada, she remains optimistic in the hopes of staying true to a Spanish-based style of play as well as teaching and recruiting players that would fit best within her system.
Sherman’s other focus has been as the General Manager and Head coach of the Simcoe County Rovers in League 1 Ontario Women’s division. The Simcoe ownership group led by Julian DeGuzman, the former all time Men’s National team Caps leader. Back in October 2021, his group, (including National team members Cyle Larin and Janine Beckie) acquired the rights to the entry into League 1 Ontario from Aurora Soccer Club and appointed Sherman as their leader.
Our mission is to advance, advocate and accelerate a professional and sustainable future for women in football.
Audra Sherman – Simcoe County Rovers
This presents some new challenges that Sherman has demonstrated that she is up to the task, including having to lead a team through a messy situation last week (June 16th), within the league that is still under investigation involving alleged racial slurs directed at players during the match.
Sherman says she was made aware of the incident Wednesday night.
“It kind of came quickly. We had a player that went down on the field and then the referee called all the coaches in,” Sherman was quoted in BarrieToday on Friday. “In your head, you’re thinking this is an injury thing, but it wasn’t. The referee informed us that one of our players had a racial slur said to her from the crowd.”
At that point, Sherman said “everything seemed to move so quickly but yet so slow.”
“We tried to manage the players right away and our first concern was to get our players away from the spectators where the slur came from and then how to go about it from there,” she added.
“The most important thing was to check on the player who had this done to her. We wanted to check on her, see if she was OK and, no, she wasn’t OK,” Sherman said. “That hit home for us, seeing how she was trying to play it off and pretending she was OK, but visibly we knew she was not.”
The League 1 board of directors will meet to review the circumstances and will determine if the score at the time will stand as the official final score, or if the abandoned match will be rescheduled and replayed.
The concern and leadership demonstrated by Sherman in the midst of the incident are part of the reason why Simcoe and Ontario Tech appear to have the correct individual at the helm, and Sherman appears to be up to the task.
Back at Ontario Tech, throughout the next three to four years, Coach Audra believes that they (the coaching staff) will be able to engrave her playing style on the team while maintaining their players’ strengths and skills.
Incident source courtesy of BarrieToday by Shawn Gibson Jun 17, 2022 7:10 PM firstname.lastname@example.org