Michelle French, a former Washington Youth Soccer player and Olympic Development Program coach, was announced Wednesday as the first full-time head coach for the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team.
French, 36, will be in charge of preparing the squad for the 2014 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup, which will be held in Canada. She has worked as an assistant coach for several U.S. Youth National teams in addition to her long history with Washington Youth Soccer as both a player and coach.
Since 2005, French has served as a coach at Eastside Football Club in Preston, Wash., where she’s coached up to three squads at once. She guided her teams to a pair of Washington State Championships in that time, most recently in 2012 with Eastside FC G93 Red.
"Eastside FC has played a monumental role in my development as a coach, and I could not be more appreciative of EFC’s support and guidance during my coaching career with the club," French said to EastsideFC.org. "I will greatly miss the coaches, parents, and especially the players I have been so fortunate to coach."
French also served as an assistant coach at UCLA and the University of Washington prior to her time at Eastside FC.
As a player, French captained the U.S. Under-21 Women’s National Team and later won an Olympic Silver Medal with the Women’s National Team at the Sydney Games in 2000. Collegiately, she enjoyed four successful years at the University of Portland and finished as an All-American and MAC Hermann Award Finalist her senior season.
Prior to the addition of French to the full-time coaching staff, U.S. Soccer named April Kater its Head Development Coach on Jan. 25. Kater was a coach at Colorado College for seven seasons and worked with the US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program from 1998 through 2010.
Kater will transfer her experience working with ODP to her new position, as she will be responsible for tracking elite youth players to serve on all of U.S. Soccer’s girls’ Youth National Teams.
"The experiences I had through U.S. Soccer camps and ODP allowed me to pave a path in playing and coaching and that hard work translates into other areas of your life," Kater said in an interview with U.S. Soccer. "Obviously, we will be bringing in top players in the country who are very talented, but it’s the differences in mentality, in passion and work rate that can separate them at this level."
French and Kater are joined by Technical Director April Heinrichs, Development Director Jill Wllis and U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team head coach B.J. Snow as the full-time staff for the women’s youth National Team programs. Snow replaced Albertin Montoya, who worked in the California North Olympic Development Program and coaches for Mountain View Los Altos SC.