On Stephanie Savino’s (’20) first day of classes for her master’s program in Soccer Coaching Education, she was asked by a professor to “teach a skill” without using a soccer ball. Considering her career at the time as a senior manager for Major League Soccer (MLS), several years of coaching experience, and over 20 years playing the sport, Savino was no stranger to on-the-fly decision-making. After a moment of consideration, she knew exactly what skill to teach: how to make pasta!
Although the group was without flour, eggs, and boiling water, Savino said that this initial class exercise quickly became her favorite memory of the program. To this day, her group—and her professor, Dr. David Carr—still laugh about that moment.
“While my specific skill had nothing to do with soccer, I wanted individuals to feel involved while learning something new, experiencing team chemistry while getting to know one another, but most importantly, have fun,” she said. “Does everyone remember how to make pasta? Probably not. But could I teach new ‘soccer’ skills that do not require a soccer ball, one-thousand percent yes!”
Savino graduated from Ohio University with her M.S. in 2020. Today, she works as a director in MLS’s Consumer Products Department, where her main focus is marketing products to all of the organization’s fanbase—from casual to avid soccer enthusiasts. Outside of the office, Savino is a U19 girl’s soccer head coach at Asphalt Green, an athletic club in New York City.
“I find myself incredibly lucky to be able to feel so connected to my professional career given my love for the sport. I am so appreciative of everything the sport has and continues to give me and believe in the power of giving back to it—and I do so from an off-pitch perspective with Major League Soccer and on-pitch perspective with Asphalt Green Soccer Club,” she said.
This year, Savino started a female mentorship program—the first of its kind—at the club. Every month, she gathers women athletes of all ages to discuss topics that will enhance their skills both on and off the soccer field.
Savino created the mentorship program in response to a lack of female representation she noticed while coaching.
“I have asked many of my athletes how many female coaches they’ve had, and unfortunately, the reply is often one or none,” she said. “While the program continues to evolve and in hopes inspire these individuals for years to come, perhaps one day I may see one of these female athletes coaching the opponent on the same sideline as me, or pursuing coaching in a bigger way so they too can grow the sport in the future.”
And while the program is still in its early stages, “it has been a huge success and something I know the female athletes look forward to monthly,” she added.
Prior to coaching at Asphalt Green, Savino was the head coach of women’s soccer at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y. At the time, she balanced that position with working fulltime at Major League Soccer, pursuing her master’s in coaching education, and working toward her U.S. Soccer “C” License.
“My experience coaching and playing college soccer has taught me that time is so incredibly important and precious, and knowing how to spend your days based on how much time you have is everything,” she said. “I love looking back and thinking about what the fuel to my day-to-day lifestyle has been.”
The Long Island, N.Y., native started playing soccer at the age of three and hasn’t stopped since. Prior to becoming a coach, Savino played Division I soccer while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in marketing at Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y.
Savino is currently pursuing her U.S. Soccer “B” License and is thankful for the parallelisms between her coaching education, working at MLS, and as a women’s soccer coach.
“Recently, I’ve discovered that not only do I aim to just inspire fans (MLS) and my athletes (Asphalt Green), but I also aim to inspire other coaches’ experiences with the sport,” she said. “I aim to be an educational instructor for U.S. Soccer and United Soccer Coaches so one day I too can help other coaches figure out a way to enhance their understanding of the sport and how they can truly inspire individuals both on and off the pitch.”
On her journey toward becoming a coaching instructor, Savino has one more goal: to one day become the Head Coach of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team.
“If you want to positively impact an athlete’s life all while teaching them to play the sport they love, then you must put your heart into it. Know your athlete, what they want out of it and how you can help them achieve their goals.”
Stephanie Savino presented at the Coaching Education Club’s first-ever webinar in November 2020. To view the webinar and her presentation, “How to ‘Brand’ Your Coaching Identity,” visit this link.