Former Florida women’s soccer head coach Becky Burleigh had no plans of pursuing a professional coaching position. In April, the iconic soccer coach hung up her whistle for what she thought would be the last time.
But after nearly four months of retirement, Burleigh is back at the helm. On July 25, the Orlando Pride announced Burleigh as the Club’s interim head coach for the remainder of the 2021 season.
Orlando Pride under new guidance
On July 23, former head coach Marc Skinner parted ways with the Pride to pursue a coaching opportunity outside of the National Women’s Soccer League. Skinner posted a 9-23-11 record while leading the Pride after being named head coach in January 2019.
As for Burleigh, she was caught by surprise when executives from the Pride reached out.
“It was certainly not an expected thing,” said Burleigh.
She would start teaching in the University of Florida’s college of health and human performance in August. In fact, she was on vacation when Orlando Pride executive vice president Amanda Duffy contacted her regarding the position.
Nonetheless, it took less than three days for her to accept the offer to be the Pride’s interim coach.
Becky Burleigh as a coach
In 26 seasons leading the Florida women’s soccer team, she totaled a 513-160-46 record as head coach. Under her leadership, the Gators were steered to an NCAA Championship, two NCAA College Cup appearances, 14 SEC Tournament titles and 22 NCAA Tournament berths.
As a legendary collegiate coach, she saw an opportunity in the Pride to guide a team stacked with talent. In what is different from coaching professionals as opposed to college athletes, she expanded on how she is adjusting to what is the little time needed to install something in players.
Getting comfortable with the Pride
In getting to know the roster, there are two former Gators and active Pride players that Burleigh knows well, midfielders Erika Tymrak and Meggie Dougherty Howard. As for other members on the team, she joked about how she is finding her bearings with the players.
“Certainly, there has been a learning curve. I had to, like, print out pictures and learn peoples’ names for the first couple of days. But to their credit, they have been super receptive and welcoming,” said Burleigh.
As for whether this will be a temporary or long-term position, she is waiting to see how the team finishes the season to make any decisions.
Becky Burleigh looking ahead
The Orlando Pride’s next match up is Sunday, August 8 as they take on the Chicago Red Stars at Soldier Field. Keep an eye out for how Burleigh is leading the talented Pride team that is in need of guidance.