UWS Appoints Former Honduran WNT Player As Executive Director
While it should not be unusual to have a woman in a leadership position, especially in women’s soccer in 2020 … it still is, but thankfully, United Women’s Soccer is smart enough to lead the way.
Big dates to remember: UWS’ Opening weekend of the season on May 9th and the National Championship from July 17 to July 19th.
The United Women’s Soccer (UWS) has selected Stephanie Cleaves as Executive Director.
Former Honduran WNT player, Cleaves has been working with the UWS since its inception in 2015. A former member of the Honduran National Women’s Soccer Team, this player turned marketing executive now takes the reigns as Executive Director alongside League Commissioner Joe Ferrara, Jr.
It is clear that the UWS recognizes the importance of providing opportunities for women to assume leadership positions and is proud to be able to set an example in the male-dominated soccer world.
“Stephanie Cleaves has been an integral part of the development and growth of UWS,” said Ferrara. “From player to league administrator, she embodies the mission of UWS to provide opportunities and role models for female athletes.”
The goal of UWS is to build a strong platform for women in soccer.
“Stephanie has shown a tremendous focus and unwavering dedication to the evolution of the UWS,” said UWS Chief Operation Officer Roberto Aguas.”
Diane Scavuzzo’s Interview with Stephanie Cleaves on The NWSL Draft and Her New Role
Diane Scavuzzo: What makes the United Women’s Soccer (UWS) league different? How does the UWS fit into the landscape of American women’s soccer?
Stephanie Cleaves: What sets UWS apart is the shared commitment between our teams and the league: Our commitment to advancing women’s soccer.
Not only do UWS clubs focus on fielding a quality team, but they are also committed to adhering to minimum standards that are overlooked by other pro-am soccer leagues.
My previous experience, both as a player and as a coach in another amateur league, entailed games held in sub-par facilities, no locker rooms, the opposing team showing up with an 8 player roster, no fans ….
There was an overall lack of respect for the women’s game.
To summarize it, some games were played in a really unprofessional atmosphere. In my experience with UWS on and off the field, the teams strive to maintain the standards set by the league & hold each other accountable.
UWS provides an opportunity to prepare players for the next step in their pathway to the pro game. Our league fills the gap that exists between college and professional soccer.
One example that sets UWS apart is the no reentry subbing rule. This forces players to compete for playing time and makes the game more pro-like from a tactical standpoint.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are your goals as the new executive director?
Stephanie Cleaves: To oversee the branding strategy and improve overall operations of UWS. Also, to implement new initiatives to help grow the league. Having another full-time staff member to work alongside our league commissioner will allow us to take our ideas to the next level and effectively execute them.
I look forward to working with more organizations that are willing to invest in women’s soccer.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why do you believe there are not more women in positions of leadership in American soccer?
Stephanie Cleaves: This is not just a problem in soccer, for example, less than 5% of women are CEOs in Fortune 500 companies.
What makes this issue so evident in American Soccer is that the U.S. Women’s National Team is the best in the world, and the men are nowhere even close to that.
There really is a lack of investment in women’s soccer at all levels.
And, this means fewer opportunities not only for players but for women that aspire to be in leadership positions.
I am glad that our executive team recognizes the importance of providing the opportunity for women to assume leadership positions within the league.
Diane Scavuzzo: UWS players did well at the sixth NWSL College Draft at the United Soccer Coaches (USC) Convention last week. How many players were drafted?
Stephanie Cleaves: Eight United Women’s Soccer (UWS) alumnae were drafted by NWSL in total, including two of the top four picks in the draft.
Former University of Colorado midfielder Taylor Kornieck (LA Galaxy OC) was taken with the third overall pick by the Orlando Pride while UCLA’s junior forward Ashley Sanchez (Santa Clarita Blue Heat) declared a year early and was selected by the Washington Spirit with the fourth overall selection. Here is the complete list by NWSL Draft Round:
UWS players selected in the NWSL College Draft ROUND 1
- #3 Orlando Pride – Taylor Kornieck (Univ. of Colorado – Boulder / LA Galaxy OC)
- #4 Washington Spirit – Ashley Sanchez (UCLA / Santa Clarita Blue Heat)
UWS players selected in the NWSL College Draft ROUND 2
- #13 Washington Spirit – Natalie Jacobs (USC / LA Galaxy OC)
UWS players selected in the NWSL College Draft ROUND 3
- #19 Chicago Red Stars – Zoe Morse (Univ. of Virginia / Lansing United)
- #22 Houston Dash – Chloe Castaneda (UCLA / Santa Clarita Blue Heat)
- #26 Orlando Pride – Abi Kim (Univ. of California – Berkeley / LA Galaxy OC)
UWS players selected in the NWSL College Draft ROUND 4
- #29 Sky Blue FC – Chantelle Swaby (Rutgers Univ. / New England Mutiny)
- #32 Washington Spirit – Kaiya McCullough (UCLA / Santa Clarita Blue Heat)
Diane Scavuzzo: Congratulations on 8 UWS players being selected. Approximately how many teams will UWS have going into the next season?
Stephanie Cleaves: The UWS will have approximately 22 teams with more teams being announced in the coming weeks. Teams with * are the new expansion teams.
AFC Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI), *Brooklyn City F.C. (Brooklyn, NY), Calgary Foothills WFC (Calgary, Canada), Connecticut Fusion (Farmington, CT), *Detroit City FC (Detroit, MI), Detroit Sun (Detroit, MI), FC Austin Elite (Austin, TX), Indiana Union (Indianapolis, IN), LA Galaxy OC (Irvine, CA), Lancaster Inferno (Lancaster, PA), Lansing United (Lansing, MI), LI Rough Riders (Plainview, NY), New England Mutiny (Ludlow, MA), *Midwest United FC (Grand Rapids, MI) – formerly “GRFC Women”, *Muskegan Risers (Muskegan, MI), NJ Copa FC (Metuchan, NJ), Queen City United (Saskatchewan, Canada), Rochester Lancers (Rochester, NY), San Antonio Athenians (San Antonio, TX), Santa Clarita Blue Heat (Santa Clarita, CA), Syracuse DA (Syracuse, NY) and Worcester Smiles (Worcester, MA)
The vision of UWS is to become the preeminent pro-am women’s soccer league in North America.
For the entire list of NWSL 2020 College Draft selections, click HERE.