Christiana Ogunsami

Drexel University Goalkeeper Coach

United Soccer Coaches Faith-Based Coaches Community Member

“What inspires me to coach is the opportunity to pour into the next generation of athletes and continue to be involved in sport.”

Who or what inspired you to pursue coaching?

I’ve always loved sports and competing. I started coaching back in high school while I trained at The Keeper Institute. What inspires me to coach is the opportunity to pour into the next generation of athletes and continuing to be involved in sport. I’ve had a few amazing coaches, while I played soccer and basketball growing up, who inspired me to pursue coaching. They saw my passion for the game and willingness to help my teammates. They also asked me to help them coach younger players and I fell in love with it. Coaching allows me to not only impart knowledge of the game to younger athletes but also demonstrate the love of Christ and empower them to be holistic individuals. 

How has being a United Soccer Coaches member benefited you?

Being a United Soccer Coaches member has allowed me to be exposed to other leaders and brilliant minds in coaching across a multitude of levels. I started as a member of the Black Soccer Coaches which has encouraged me to continue pouring into young black athletes in Philly and South Jersey. It is also amazing to see more faces that look like me excelling in a predominantly white sport in America. Being able to be a member of the Faith-Based Soccer Coaches also allows me to find community with people who share my faith and aim to coach athletes in a way that is aligned with Christian values. United Soccer Coaches has also been a tremendous resource for me to grow as a young coach.

What do you feel has been the hardest part of coaching?

The hardest part of coaching is also my favorite part about coaching: the mental side. I once heard a prominent psychologist on a podcast say that, for a coach, “every interaction is an intervention”. Coaching is unique because it’s not just about tactics and technique. Coaches have an amazing opportunity to invest in the lives of their athletes holistically but the hard part is doing that in a performative environment. As a doctoral student studying clinical psychology, I emphasize the mental side of the game for my athletes. It can be challenging to balance making decisions for the betterment of the team’s success and catering to the mental health needs of athletes. Also, managing the mental side of the game for a coach is challenging. As a leader, we carry the weight of the team on our shoulders. Sport culture doesn’t encourage true vulnerability so coaches often feel like they need to be “strong” at all costs for the sake of their athletes. So, finding the balance on caring for athletes while prioritizing our own mental health is imperative. 

How do you measure success with your team? 

For me, success is about being willing to fail. That sounds counterintuitive, but failure is the key to greatness. We have to fail to learn and grow. I aim to create environments where my athletes are challenged and feel safe to fail. Success, to me more importantly, is also about living healthy lives. Wins and losses last only for a short period. If my athletes feel supported and challenged to grow as people, that will carry through the rest of their lives.