Coach (2019)

‘Coach’ (2019) is 25 minutes of inspiration

Sport Psychologist Courtney Carroll Levinsohn found out that SFSU coach Tracy Hamm was working on her UEFA A-license. Only 1% of such coaching licenses are held by women. Why not put this story on the screen and thereby normalize it? The result is Coach, 25 minutes of inspiration that tell women and girls, you can do this. 

To me, the film stands out for its simplicity in portraying why Tracy went for this license and what it took to accomplish it. She completed it in May-2019, making her the second UEFA A-licensed American female coach. She also has the USSoccer A-license. 

There is just enough soccer in the film to ably support the story and provide context. Every soccer organization should show this entertaining film to their players and coaches.

About the film production

Levinsohn is not a filmmaker, but she executive produced the movie because she believes that sport is a vehicle for social change (see her company Growth through Sport). Feminists might be upset that Levinsohn recruited Directors Jordan Axelrod and Matthew Edward Ellison, who ended up with a 4-man all male film crew. They followed Tracy to Wales and filmed her in action in the UEFA A-license class. 

In capturing the story as observers, the film crew realized the subtle struggles women deal with on a daily basis to retain their personal power and credibility in what is nominally a man’s world. Sometimes mansplaining comes across as a putdown, but Tracy stays on task. The crew had their own epiphany and became part of the team to empower women. For a fully informative interview, read Lee Jutton’s article.

Tracy Hamm Q&A

Tracy Hamm at Women Sports Film Festival
Tracy Hamm at Women Sports Film Festival

I was fortunate to watch this film at the 2019 Women Sports Film Festival in San Francisco, whose goals are in line with Levinsohn’s: to showcase inspirational stories in women’s sports. Tracy Hamm gave a Q&A afterward and spoke about the value of being oneself, surrounding yourself with people who believe in you, giving other women independence and autonomy, and showing it’s okay to be vulnerable. 

Tracy believes women have to continue to promote each other to move all women up the ladder. I’ve noticed that more and more women leaders are advocating this, such as in Abby Wambach’s book “Wolfpack”.  

Tracy was asked what they teach in the UEFA class. Her playing style had been “big balls, go forward, and just compete” by depending on athleticism. (Readers should recognize this as the historical US approach to soccer.) She’s now more sophisticated. Two of the things UEFA instructors focused on were: match analysis and coaching philosophy (I forget the rest). Tracy joked that she no longer enjoys watching soccer games because she’s always thinking about how she would correct the play. 

After getting her UEFA A-license, Tracy now coaches at UC Davis. To learn more about UEFA coaching licenses, watch Trainer!

Small World Trivia

Tracy Hamm is not the only female coach in the film. A woman she looked up to was Jenny (JT) Thomas, a long-time assistant coach at UC Berkeley. JT is a firecracker on screen, and in doing my research, I was shocked to realize that she is the daughter of my neighbor. Which leads me to conclude that being a firecracker is hereditary: like mother like daughter.  

I was also intrigued by Mido, one of Tracy’s fellow UEFA students who is a former Egyptian forward now turned pundit and coach. I immediately recognized him but could not recall why. It turns out that he had screen time in the film Becoming Zlatan, where they were rival teammates. Mido is now perhaps more famous for having thrown a scissor at the young Zlatan in their locker room.

9 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 9