Sarah Richards is the new head girls soccer coach at Shiloh after being a part of the program previously as the coach of the junior varsity team. She is a graduate of South Gwinnett, where she stood out in basketball and soccer, and Emory University.
Before coming to Shiloh, Richards studied abroad in Austria and Scotland. Staff correspondent Alan Cole spoke to her about those experiences, her own playing days and her ambitions for Shiloh girls’ soccer in this week’s installment of “Getting to Know…”.
AC: Did you watch a lot of soccer as a kid?
SR: Honestly, I didn’t watch a lot of soccer, no, played a lot of soccer, yes. I watched a lot of basketball and football, but I’ve started watching a lot more soccer in the last ten years or so. Now I would say I’m a soccer fan. As a child it wasn’t on TV as much. I remember the 1996 Olympics and the 1999 World Cup when Brandi Chastain made the PK.
AC: Who were your favorite teams/players to watch?
SR: I have just adopted the Orlando Pride as my favorite women’s team. They are an expansion team in the women’s pro league. A good friend of mine and I have just adopted them as my favorite team. The German national team and the Austrian national team are my other favorites; I teach German.
AC: Have you gotten a chance to go down to Orlando?
SR: No, but we are going up to DC to see them play against the DC team.
AC: Sounds fun, enjoy that.
SR: Thank you, I’m looking forward to it.
AC: What excites you the most about your first head-coaching job?
SR: The opportunity to get to keep working with the girls that I got to work with last year as the JV coach, and really build on the amazing improvement that I saw with them over the last year, and keep improving, building, and to see if we can turn Shiloh into the proud program that it once was.
AC: What do you think you learned from Emory that will help you the most with Shiloh?
SR: As far as soccer goes … hmmm, good question. I think the most important thing I learned was the importance of giving it your all 100 percent of the time when you are on the field or getting ready to step on the field. Just being committed and making sure all of your actions are helping you to perform at your highest level.
AC: That makes a lot of sense.
SR: Yeah, it was a pretty serious program. At a level that I think is too much for a high school team, but that same level of excellence, preparation, and focus can definitely be applied at any level.
AC: What do you think the biggest challenge will be at Shiloh?
SR: Well, if we look at Shiloh’s record in the past few years, and we look at the fact that we haven’t had a JV program for a while, we haven’t had as strong of a pipeline coming up as we would’ve liked. The other programs in the area such as Grayson, Brookwood, Parkview, and those kinds of schools have had a lot more success than we have in recent years. It’s going to take a lot of hard work to get us back to that level. I think that we can do it, but it’s going to be a challenge. It’s going to be a lot of work.
AC: What is one thing from your playing days that you want to carry forward into coaching?
SR: I think on one sense that idea of remembering that it’s a lot of fun. That the point of all of it is to have fun, spend time with your teammates, to play an amazing sport, and to enjoy every minute of the experience. It goes so fast, and as a player you don’t always necessarily realize that until it’s over. Just to try to help my kids realize that and help them appreciate it. In the end, win or lose, it’s all about having fun and getting better.
AC: You’ve done some studying abroad, what was your favorite place you traveled?
SR: Vienna, Austria definitely.
AC: If you could travel to one country you haven’t been to, where would it be?
SR: That’s a tough one. I’m really interested in — at least this week, I’m interested in everywhere — but this week the Scandinavia region, definitely in summer though. Maybe Sweden the most though.
AC: What is your favorite aspect of coaching soccer?
SR: Getting to know the girls. Getting to know them in a different way from when you are teaching. Getting to know the game from a different angle as far as what you see as a player from one position from what you see as a coach, trying to keep up with all the positions and all the players. It’s different and you appreciate it on a very different level. So both of those things.
AC: Do you have any gameday superstitions?
SR: (Laughing) Usually those change season by season for me. There where whole seasons were I ate a certain number of Reece’s Pieces before a game, or put on different color socks underneath my soccer socks, or putting shin guards on in a certain order. They usually don’t carry over from year to year though.
AC: What do you like to do in your free time?
SR: I really like to run, I run half marathons. I also like to read and to watch old movies, travelling of course, and just spending time with my family and friends.
AC: What’s your favorite old movie?
SR: Nights of Cabiria from the 1950s in Italy.
AC: There’s a traveling theme going on here.
SR: Yes, absolutely. I love Europe. I actually did a masters degree in film studies as well, so I spent a lot of time watching these old movies. Now I just do it for fun, now it’s a hobby.
AC: What music do you like to listen to?
SR: A wide variety, anything but country I would say. My favorite is probably alternative rock.
AC: Favorite song?
SR: Favorite song, that changes like every week right (laughing)? That’s a tough one. My favorite song of all time, probably going back to high school, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” I think my other favorite song of all time is AFI’s “Silver and Cold”. My favorite song right now is… I’m pulling up my most recently listened to songs (thinking), “Give Me a Try” by the Wombats.
AC: If you could travel to one sporting event anywhere in the world, where would you go?
SR: Oh wow. Man, that’s a tough one. I did get to go to the EURO Cup in 2008 when I was in Austria, which was kind of a dream option. And I have been to the Olympics when they were in Atlanta in 1996. And I am going to Wimbledon in a couple weeks. That’s going to be amazing. I would really like to go to a Bayern Munchen game in Munich. That would be amazing.