University of Chicago men's soccer coach among just 5 percent of women coaching men's sports

Karen Jordan Image
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
University of Chicago's new soccer coach is a trailblazer
Oswego native Julianne Sitch is part of just 5% of men's sports team coaches who are women. She is leading the U of C men's soccer team to a possible championship.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Julianne Sitch said she fell in love with soccer as a young girl.

"Even grow up, for myself at that young age, I was surrounded by boys playing soccer," she said.

The Oswego native said she knew back then she wanted to go pro, even though she didn't have a lot of female role models.

"It wasn't until the '99ers, when they won the World Cup. That's the moment when my room was no longer filled with men's soccer player posters it was now filled with women's soccer player posters, because I could see it. I could dream it. I could believe in that," Sitch said.

She realized her dream, playing for the Chicago Red Stars and then becoming an assistant coach for the women's soccer team at the University of Chicago. After four years, the outgoing head of the men's soccer team at U of C recommended her for the job, and she was hired in the spring.

She's among just 5% of women coaching men's sports teams, and said her transition was seamless.

"At the end of the day, you're coaching athletes. You're coaching them to be the best version of themselves on and off the field. And whether you're coaching a men's team or women's team, the culture doesn't change," she said.

Sitch continues to be a trailblazer, leading the team to the NCAA final four later this week in Virginia.

"The guys have been in this position before. They've been to the final four. There's a big group of them coming back and getting another opportunity to get at the final four, so they're hungry, they're eager, they want more," said Sitch.

Advancing to the final and getting the win this weekend would be the peak on an already historic season for Sitch. But her priority remains being an example of what women can achieve not just in athletics, but whatever career they choose.