Seasoned coach, athlete chosen to lead

Amidst the bustle of the offseason, the Metropolitan State Women’s Soccer program has landed a new head coach. Tracy Chao began her duties on March 6.

Former CU Boulder assistant coach Tracy Chao named the head coach of the women’s soccer team at MSU Denver for the 2017-2018 season. Photo from MSU Denver

Following the departure of former nine-year head coach Adrianne Pietz, Athletic Director Anthony Grant named Chao the head coach of the program in late February 2017. The challenge of turning this period of transition into productivity lies ahead for the coaching staff and squad. With Chao leading the pack,
there is a lot to look forward to going into the 2017-2018 season.

Roadrunner defender Cassi Fischer has a bright outlook on the new coach, stating that it is “exciting” to have a clean slate to work with. She admitted that she was surprised when Pietz stepped down, but looks at it as an opportunity.

“Some of the players were really shocked. But mainly, we have looked at it as an opportunity for a new
experience,” said Fisher.

Going into her senior season, Fischer played under Pietz in the previous three years. However, Fischer made room for the big change. Being a part of the selection committee prior to Chao’s hiring, she got the chance to personally learn about the incoming coach.

“She has high-quality energy and a high-quality personality,” Fisher said. “If we can start to feed off her positive energy and the type of person that she is, we will become better people in the end.”

She was also practical about the status of the team.

“Our team has a ton of potential, but we don’t tap into it,” she said. “I think if she can pull us into a positive mindset and set the expectations high, everything will be 100 times better.”

Along with her personality, Fischer believes that Chao’s stint as a student-athlete serves as reinforcement for her prowess as a mentor to the players.

“There is a different bond that you have with other female athletes. They understand what it means to be a woman in college and playing sports,” she said.

Having been a goalkeeper at Wake Forest University — earning the team MVP award in 2000 along with four trips to the NCAA tournament — Chao is no stranger to the life of a student-athlete. She described
her intention as a coach.

“My goal is to establish a culture that develops the entire student-athlete,” Chao said. “There is life after soccer, part of my job is to prepare them for that life.”

Following her collegiate career, she proceeded to be the assistant coach for a multitude of colleges.

She started at the University of Northern Colorado, moved on to the University of Colorado Boulder and most recently was on the staff of Charleston College. Chao has accumulated a total of 12 years of coaching experience, seven of which were spent in the Rocky Mountain State.

Chao expressed her pleasure in returning to Colorado once more.

“It is awesome to be able to come back to the place I started my coaching career and establish myself a little more,” she said.

Chao mastered various office roles at Charleston and plans to make use of them coming into her newest endeavor. She looks to be off to a great start in recruitment considering the growing amount of college and club coaches that have reached out to her. Excited to successfully recruit, Chao seeks a win-win for
both the program and potential athletes.

Moreover, her style of coaching consists of a similar versatility that she had as a player. As an athlete at Wake Forest, Chao began as a defender and doubled as a goalkeeper. Likewise, as a coach, she partook in recruiting, equipment management, and travel and operations responsibilities.

“My playing experience allowed me to understand what it’s like to be a student-athlete and compete at the collegiate level,” Chao said. “But surely as you mature in your coaching career, you gain an understanding of what it takes to run a successful program both on and off the field.”

Surely, Chao encourages her players to be flexible as well.

“Soccer players can be versatile, and that’s exactly what I like out of my players,” she said. “We want to train our players to have a high soccer IQ and be versatile athletes.”

Chao appears to be a promising acquisition as she plans to uphold MSU Denver’s winning tradition
in years to come. She wants to start with the evaluation and development of players this spring.

“Looking forward, our goal is to win the regular season, win an RMAC championship, and get ourselves a bid in the opportunity for the NCAA tournament,” she said. “I think it’s important to be role models for the youth and be as active in the campus community as we can. We want to be acknowledged for what we do on and off the field.”

It would be most fitting to say that the sky is the limit for the Women’s Soccer program under their new leader, both on the field and in life.

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