As the only ever West Virginia women’s soccer head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown prepares for her 26th season at the helm of the Mountaineers, she will be doing so knowing how much she has accomplished, but as she says, “ready to grind and win championships.”
Izzo-Brown can find comfort in that some of her former players have already won championships this year at the Tokyo Summer Olympics when Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence won gold medals for their home country of Canada after knocking off the United States and Sweden to win it all.
Buchanan and Lawrence are just a couple of the star players that Izzo-Brown has had the honor of coaching and molding into more complete players in their time with the blue and gold. The head coach has been producing players like these since August of 1993 when she was announced the head coach of the women’s soccer program at WVU.
Through those 25 years, the captain of the ship has also never endured a losing season with the worst season of her career coming in 1999 as the team finished with a .500 mark of 9-9-1.
“What I said then was that it was going to take special people to win here,” Izzo-Brown said. “I always thought it was a special place. I wouldn’t have gotten so specific as to say I’m going to coach a Gold Medalist, two Gold Medalists, Bronze medalists, World Cup players or 30 or so pros.”
The coach doesn’t have to get specific on what her former players achieve today as the playing very well does all of the talking even from the other side of the globe. Izzo-Brown has also coached a whopping 26 players who played professionally after their time in Morgantown, 22 conference players of the year, a 2016 espnW National Player of the Year as well as a few other Olympic heroes who finished as Bronze medalists and even a FIFA Women’s World Cup Best Young Player award thrown in there. Quite the collection of players.
Izzo-Brown has created quite the culture around Morgantown for the way her girls play soccer and build themselves individually and work together to stack pile wins and NCAA tournament runs. She has led her squads to 10 regular-season titles and seven conference tournament championships as well as earning a first national No. 1 ranking in 2016.
“It’s a sick disease us coaches have where we don’t get time to reflect enough and go ‘Whoa, wait a minute! There’s a young coach and now she’s an old coach and look what has happened along the way,” Izzo-Brown said. “If I was to talk to my young self, I would appreciate moments like this and say ‘Wow, there’s some amazing things happening that don’t happen to every program in this country.’”
The word success would be an understatement to describe Izzo-Brown’s time with the West Virginia women’s soccer program as she gets set for her 26th year of action. This year should be like no other for the future Hall of Fame coach as she has some leaders in defender Jordan Brewster and goalkeeper Kayza Massey who have both been named to the Big 12’s Preseason All-Conference team.
“I think both of them bring that experience back,” Izzo-Brown. “Both have those years under the belts, especially Jordan. My hope is experience, a little bit of hunger to get a championship this year.”
A lot can be said about the Mountaineers women’s soccer program, but Izzo-Brown can now look back on 25 years of booming success, personal accolades and team titles and use that to propel her teams in the future of the sport.
(Top Photo: Jenny Shepard)