CHICAGO (Jan. 6, 2011) – U.S. Soccer has appointed April Heinrichs as the Technical Director and Jill Ellis as the Development Director for the U.S. Women's National Teams. The hirings mark the first time U.S. Soccer has appointed full-time positions to oversee the women's youth national team program and the programs’ overall development.
Heinrichs will provide technical direction for women's soccer in the United States as it relates to the U.S. Women's National Teams with a focus on the Under-20s and younger, while overseeing the U.S. Under-20 and U.S. U-18 Women's National Teams. Ellis will be taking the lead on interacting directly with key coaches within the youth club environment while also guiding and directing the U.S. U-17s, U-15s and U-14s. Both Heinrichs and Ellis hold USSF "A" coaching licenses.
“I am extremely pleased that April and Jill have joined our women’s national team program,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “We have two vastly experienced coaches who have the knowledge and the tools to focus heavily on the development of girls’ soccer in the United States.”
Heinrichs and Ellis will work together to integrate all of the youth women’s and girls’ national teams, helping players and systems connect from one team to the next. They will also play major roles in leading the discussion on connecting the philosophies of the WNT head coach through all the youth national teams and especially to the massive amount of girls' youth clubs in the United States. Ellis especially will focus on the grassroots within the youth club environment to convey the goals and philosophies of player development in order to help produce quality players for the national team level.
“These are two great hires,” said U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Pia Sundhage. “Both April and Jill have tremendous experience in the women’s game at many levels. April has played at the highest level, coached at the highest level and has worked for FIFA on the technical side. Both are extremely competitive and know what it takes to play at the youth levels and for the full team. I’ve worked closely with Jill and her personality and knowledge are great. Her feeling for soccer and people will help the program overall. We are fortunate to have these two on board.”
Both will work directly with U.S. Soccer Director of Scouting Tony Lepore and Technical Advisors in maximizing U.S. Soccer’s scouting network on the girls’ side and both will have heavy involvement in the implementation and execution of U.S. Soccer Training Centers for girls.
Both women have extensive experience with U.S. Soccer’s women’s national team program. Heinrichs was head coach of the full Women’s National Team from 2000-2004, compiling a record of 87-17-20. During her tenure she led the USA to the 2004 Olympic gold medal in Greece, a silver medal at the 2000 Olympics in Australia and a third-place finish at the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup in the USA. Heinrichs was the first female head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team.
Heinrichs also coached the U.S. Under-16 Girls’ National Team from 1997 until 2000 when she became head coach of the WNT. Heinrichs was an assistant coach for the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team in Sweden and for the gold medal winning 1996 Olympic Team in Athens, Ga., under then-head coach Tony DiCicco.
"I'm very much looking forward to getting back on the field again and working with our nation's best players, coaches and staff, as well as working collaboratively with the girls' and women's soccer community to enhance player development across the nation,” said Heinrichs. “It is an honor to have been selected for this role given the many great coaches that applied, and I will do my best to serve our new team, U.S. Soccer and the women's game."
Ellis has coached the U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team during two different stints in 2000 and 2005, leading the squad to Nordic Cup titles both years, and also coached the U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team during two tenures. She coached the U.S. U-20s in 2007, but left that job in 2008 to become an assistant coach under Pia Sundhage for the gold medal winning 2008 Olympic Team. In 2009, she took the helm of the U-20s again, coaching them into the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany. Ellis also served as a scout for the 2000 Olympics in Australia working for Heinrichs, who was the head coach of that U.S. team.
“I want to thank U.S. Soccer for the continued support of our women’s game by having the vision and commitment to create these positions, and second for offering me the opportunity to be a part of the journey,” said Ellis. “I have enjoyed and been privileged to have been involved at every level in the women’s game for the past 21 years. It’s the passion I have for our game that makes this move an exciting and creative opportunity. I look forward to working with the club coaches in our country to establish a blueprint to continue to keep the U.S at the forefront of women’s soccer.”
Ellis leaves UCLA to take the position with U.S. Soccer after a highly successful 12-year run as the head women’s soccer coach for the Bruins. Ellis led UCLA to eight NCAA Final Fours, including seven in a row from 2003-2009, and won six straight conference titles from 2003-2008. She finishes her time in Westwood with a record of 229-45-14. Ellis, who was also head coach at the University of Illinois, has an all-time collegiate coaching record of 248-63-14. Ellis was a forward during her playing days from 1984-87 at the College of William & Mary where she was an All-American in 1987.
“I am excited and energized for the new challenges ahead with U.S. Soccer, but also sad to depart an amazing university with so many wonderful friendships and memories,” said Ellis. “UCLA has been my home for the past 12 years, and college soccer my life for over 21 years, but I am ready to help U.S. Soccer in their commitment to continue the evolution of our women's game.”
Heinrichs also has extensive experience in the college game, having been head coach at Virginia, Maryland, Princeton and UC Irvine. She has a 119-86-16 overall collegiate record. Heinrichs comes to U.S. Soccer from a post with the U.S. Olympic Committee's Sport Performance Division where she has worked as a high performance director/consultant since 2007. In her role with the USOC, Heinrichs worked with 24 different men’s and women’s Olympic and Paralympic sports in developing their performance preparations.
Heinrichs was one of the pioneers of the U.S. Women’s National Team and a key player on the 1991 team that won the first Women's World Cup. The 2-1 win over Norway in the championship match was her final game as she finished her international career with 38 goals in 47 games. Heinrichs, who was the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year in 1986 and 1989, played four years at the University of North Carolina, winning three NCAA titles and was named First-Team All-American three times. In 1998, she became the first female player inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.