Plymouth’s Alison Foley puts coaching philosophies into ‘How to Coach Girls’ 

Plymouth’s Alison Foley puts coaching philosophies into ‘How to Coach Girls’

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Plymouth’s Alison Foley puts coaching philosophies into ‘How to Coach Girls’

PLYMOUTH – Alison Foley has definitely accumulated enough knowledge to fill a book in her more than 20 years of coaching women’s college soccer. So that’s exactly what the Plymouth native decided to do. The Boston College women’s soccer head coach recently collaborated with her friend, professional blogger Mia Wenjen, on a new book called “How to Coach Girls.”

“I really enjoyed the process of putting this book together. It was almost therapeutic looking back at things that I’ve experienced as a coach, and it helped remind me of why I got into coaching in the first place,” Foley said. “It reminded me of how key a role positive reinforcement plays in successful coaching.”

Foley’s coaching methods have served her well since she first took over her own soccer program in the mid-’90s. After starring as a player at Plymouth-Carver and then Keene State, she took a position as a graduate assistant coach at James Madison University in Virginia. Foley then went on to take over the program at Angelo State University in Texas in 1996 for one year before coming to Boston College, where she is in her 21st season leading the program.

The 47-year-old Newton resident has won more games than anyone else in B.C. women’s soccer program history with a career record of 266-140-38. Her teams have made 14 NCAA tournament appearances, including a trip to the 2010 College Cup Final Four in 2010. Foley is also the senior director of coaching for the South Shore Select club soccer program.

To nobody’s surprise, it was soccer that brought the Newton residents together in the first place.

“Our daughters are good friends and they’ve played on the same soccer teams over the years. Mia and I got to talking about coaching a lot at their games and we eventually came to the realization that maybe we could combine our talents and write a book on the subject that could help coaches and parents,” Foley explained.

So Foley and Wenjen, a professional blogger at, started the writing process. Every other Thursday for five months they’d get together and work on the book, and last month the finished product was published by Audrey Press for the world to read.

Foley and Wenjen wrote the book for coaches of all sports and levels and for parents who hope to have a positive effect on their daughters’ teams. Foley detailed three key ways coaches can start to lay down a path to a successful team.

Step one is scheduling a pre-season meeting that includes the players as well as parents.

“We set certain expectations for players, and there should also be a code of conduct for parents at the games about what you want to see from them on the sidelines,” Foley said. “That pre-season communication is huge because it gets everyone on the same page right away.”

Step two involves forming the chemistry of the team. “Make sure that everyone treats all of their teammates with the same respect,” Foley said. “Togetherness is what builds a real team. Move kids around and have them work with different teammates to get rid of cliques and promote teamwork.”

And suggestion number three? Have fun.

“Girls drop out of sports at a much higher rate than boys do, so you need to find ways to keep girls involved and invested. A great way to do that is to keep an element of fun with things,” Foley said. “Celebrate birthdays and do other team-bonding events. Find ways to build bonds that keep the group growing into a real team.”

Foley and Wenjen will have a book signing for “How to Coach Girls” from 4 to 6 p.m. on May 12 at the South Shore Sports Center in Hingham.

Foley and Wenjen will have a book signing for “How to Coach Girls” from 4 to 6 p.m. on May 12 at the South Shore Sports Center in Hingham. Continue reading “Plymouth’s Alison Foley puts coaching philosophies into ‘How to Coach Girls’ “

Women in Sports Today: Female Coaches Are The Final Frontier

The turning point for women in sports was Title IX, a federal civil rights law in the U.S., passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. Before Title IX, one in 27 girls played sports. Today that number is two in five.*

Similarly, there were almost no college athletic scholarships for women 40 years ago. Now, almost 200,000 women play college sports, and many of those athletes get scholarships. But there is still significant work to be done. The playing field is still not equal despite Title IX.

Representative Patsy Mink of Hawaii, Title IX co-author, for whom the law was renamed in 2002.

Girls (and boys) of color still lack access sports.** This is an issue of poverty that also affects children who are not of color. The rise of club sports monetizes youth development in sports, shutting out those who can’t pay to play. And, the path to playing sports in college is often determined by the ability of parents to pay for development. Continue reading “Women in Sports Today: Female Coaches Are The Final Frontier”

Free Downloadable Forms for Coaches

Parent Code of Conduct Downloadable Form

Here are free, downloadable and printable forms for coaches based on various chapters in HOW TO COACH GIRLS:

free award certificates for sports teams

Samples of part of each form:

Parent Code of Conduct Downloadable FormChampions Creed PrintablePlayer Code of Conduct Downloadable FormFree Downloadable Emergency Medical Kit Check Off FormHow to Coach Girls Pre Season Logistics Check Off Downloadable FormPlayer Evaluation Downloadable Form

We are in Soccer America!

Soccer America: Coaching Girls: How to deliver feedback effectively


Coaching Girls: How to deliver feedback effectively

by  ,  ,Feb 28, 2018

Mia: My daughter’s club volleyball coach is amazing; he thanks players for running for an out of bounds ball that they have no hope of getting. They would walk through fire for him. I asked him when we headed over to the team dinner one night if he had always coached this way. He told me that he used to be the kind of coach who was the hardest on the most promising player, but he learned that you can’t coach girls in that way.

Continue reading “We are in Soccer America!”

Video that BC Soccer Recruits Receive…

This Is Boston College Women’s Soccer

Boston College Women’s Soccer. This is the video that is sent to Boston College’s Women’s Soccer committed recruits to give them a little insight into what makes BC soccer unique. It’s what being a girl on a team is all about… family, friendships, pride loyalty and trust.

p.s. To learn more about How To Coach Girls, check out Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It’s available for purchase here. Continue reading “Video that BC Soccer Recruits Receive…”

Ainslee Lamb on Coaching Her Daughter

On coaching her daughter Brooklyn:

Thank you so much Ainslee Lamb for your support of  HOW TO COACH GIRLS:

It is refreshing to read HOW TO COACH GIRLS that recognizes and embraces the unique aspect of coaching female athletes. A guide for coaches of all sports to facilitate the incredible responsibility and privilege we have to work with the future female leaders through the wonderful gift of sport.

To finally articulate the sentiments of many successful female sports team coaches, and identify the techniques and approaches that will contribute to the potential success of the girls both on and off the fields.

To demonstrate to all of us that adjusting our approach, focus or style of communication is no longer a compromise but the sign of a great coach that only wants to catapult these girls to be confident, capable and proud young women today! HOW TO COACH GIRLS gives us tangible ideas, practice plans and thought provoking chapters to help us do exactly that!

Continue reading “Ainslee Lamb on Coaching Her Daughter”

How To Coach Girls at South Shore Select #LikeAGirl

Alison Foley running practice at South Shore Select club soccer. Our thanks to Zoe Lee for creating this video.

Thank you also to Liz Lima for her support of How To Coach Girls:

The lessons learned from sports can help shape a girl for the rest of her life.  HOW TO COACH GIRLS teaches you about the very real and positive impact that sports can have on young girls and best practices to help empower the next generation of strong and confident females.   #likeagirl

Liz Lima

Director of AP Programs at club soccer team South Shore Select

Continue reading “How To Coach Girls at South Shore Select #LikeAGirl”

Fabian (Fabe) Ardila – Volleyball

Fabian (Fabe) Ardila, Volleyball Coach

Fabian (Fabe) Ardila

Fabian (Fabe) Ardila has coached volleyball for close to thirty years starting when he was eighteen years old. He coached high school volleyball for both boys and girls including Newton South, Wellesley, Sacred Heart, and Weston High Schools. He was the assistant coach for Harvard University as well. He currently also coaches at the club level for Smash Volleyball, as well as at his own club, MGA. For the U.S.A. Women’s National Volleyball Team, Fabe was a coach for the setters who competed at the Rio Olympics under Coach Karch Kiraly. He is currently working U.S.A. Volleyball with high performance athletes who train for future Olympics, including the national teams. Last, but certainly not least, he coached his three daughters who all play at a high level.

  Fabian (Fabe) Ardila, Volleyball Coach

On Coaching Your Own Daughters

I think listening is a key component when coaching your own daughters. We don’t do a good job at listening both on the parent side, and as their parent/coach. We don’t really listen and understand when our kids tell us what is going on and what difficulties they are having. We just assume that they should be doing things a certain way. If we listened a little better, and had better communication between the player (who is your son or daughter), and the coach, I think that would go a long way. It’s interesting because I’ve coached all three of my daughters, and each one had a different personality. But I believe the success that we had with each one of them had to do with talking in a way that each one understood what I was trying to get out of them, and pushing them just enough so that I wasn’t alienating them from me being a dad, or from our team and the things we wanted to do as a team.

For more advice from Fabe including how he gets his players to love the game, please read How To Coach Girls coming out March of 2018.

p.s. To learn more about How To Coach Girls, check out Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It’s available for purchase here.

How To Coach Girls Alison Foley Mia Wenjen coaching book for girls

Kelly Doton: Women’s Field Hockey

Kelly Doton

Kelly Doton
Boston College

Head Coach Women’s Field Hockey

Doton became head coach of the Boston College field hockey program in 2015. She started as associate head coach at Boston College in 2012, and previously coached at Indiana University.

In Doton’s four seasons, Boston College has posted double-digit wins each year and has advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three seasons (2013-2015).

A 2004 graduate of Wake Forest, Doton was an asset to the Demon Deacons on both sides of the ball during her collegiate career, helping to lead her squad to back-to-back NCAA championships. 

In addition to being named the ACC Player of the Year in 2002, she was also a two-time NFHCA First-Team All-American and a three-time All-ACC honoree during her career.

In addition to her collegiate playing experience, Doton was a member of the U.S. Women’s Senior National Team from 2005-10. In 2008, she was part of the U.S. squad that traveled to the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.

Kelly Doton 

What is your best piece of advice to a girls youth coach? 

Honesty is the best coaching approach. Criticism is never easy to hear and some young female coaches have a tendency to sugar coat coaching when it comes to things players can improve on. I hear a lot of youth coaches who acknowledge and congratulate athletes for things that shouldn’t be commended. In my opinion, that is validating bad play as acceptable. It’s the blue-ribbon society we live in where kids are getting a trophy just for playing. Be fair, be honest, and be open to the players. Treat your number 1 player on your depth chart just the same as the one sitting in last place.


For Kelly Doton’s team building exercise for selecting team captains, please read How to Coach Girls coming out March of 2018.

p.s. To learn more about How To Coach Girls, check out Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It’s available for purchase here.

How To Coach Girls Alison Foley Mia Wenjen coaching book for girls