How Soccer Explains the World
As an athlete, coach and businesswoman, I’ve been extremely fortunate to travel the globe and experience many cultures through the unique lens of soccer. From watching an explosive come-from-behind victory at River Plate in Buenos Aires, to coaching in a gay men’s soccer tournament in Denmark, my travels have undoubtedly influenced my perceptions of both the world and of myself.
I’ve walked the Real Madrid training grounds, flown a 2-seat glider plane over the dirt pitches of Southern Holland and cheered with the Swedes at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin at the 2006 World Cup. I’ve been humbled by a coach in Tanzania who had had nothing more than a soccer ball and a goal post, and a little girl in the Caribbean who had no shoes. Soccer has given me unique perspective, memories, friendships, and struggles for which I am truly grateful.
I was hired as the Director of Social Media at Major League Soccer (MLS) in February 2012. In this role, I oversee the league’s social media strategy, planning, scheduling and implementation. I work with partners and agencies to support product development, while analyzing and reporting on social initiatives to establish KPIs that define success and educating, enabling and energizing stakeholders about the changing landscape of social technologies.
Before MLS, I was with Women’s Professional Soccer, first as the Director of Online Marketing, Website and Camps at the Chicago Red Stars, helping them get the business up and running, then as the New Media Manager at the WPS league office. My job was to maintain the website as the leading source for women’s soccer news in the world, while educating and remotely training the web managers at nine markets across the country in areas such as the content management system, e-newsletter campaign, social media marketing and search engine optimization.
In July 2010, WPS went through a complete restructure and the league, unfortunately, folded about 18 months later. Fortunately for me, demand for social media marketing in sports was incredible, so I launched my own business, Vandervort Digital, to help sports leagues, teams, universities, small businesses, executives, athletes and coaches develop personalized social media strategies.
I’m a Coach, First
That’s the first thing I tell people when they ask what I do, because even if I’m not on the pitch every day, that’s where my heart will always be. I hold my USSF B Coaching License and my NSCAA Premier Diploma. I’m currently Vice President for Marketing of the NSCAA and previously spent five years as Chair of the Women’s Committee.
I was the Head Women’s Soccer Coach at New York University for four years. Before that, I worked as the Graduate Assistant Soccer Coach at The College of New Jersey, where we were Mid-Atlantic Regional Champions, NJAC Champions and NCAA Elite Eight. I earned my Master’s Degree in Educational Technology while working as a licensed Real Estate Agent for Weidel Realtors.
As a collegiate four-year scholarship goalkeeper for the University of Wyoming, I was selected captain as a junior and senior, was voted the teams Most Inspirational Player, and earned the Pokes Strength Award. I studied Communications with a focus in Technology Education, and yes, am still proud to say I was the Computer Lab Manager for the College of Education. I also interned with the Wyoming Women’s Business Center, a non-profit arm of the Wyoming Small Business Development (SBD) that focused exclusively on women in business, certainly giving me valuable insight for my career today.
Women’s Football Development
After speaking on a media panel at the FIFA Women’s Symposium at the 2011 Women’s World Cup, I joined FIFA Women’s Football Development as a Marketing and Communications Instructor.
In my role, I help member associations better understand and communicate the positive benefits of women’s soccer, while also helping them attract partners and sponsors. We work to improve cooperation and communication between a FIFA member association (MA), its government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in the country, other partners and the media.
This work with FIFA has allowed me to travel to amazing places and meet incredible people in Jamaica, Tanzania, St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, St. Lucia and India. I’ve visited Home of FIFA in Zurich for an instructors seminar and now I can’t wait for the Women’s World Cup in Canada 2015.
My husband, Ethan, was the original inspiration for Soccer Science, which was born back in 2007 (my archives only go back to 2008 b/c of a major domain migration) as a way for me to learn multiple facets about the art and science known as SEO, content management systems (WordPress baby!), Thesis, and Google for Publishers (Adsense, Analytics, etc.). I’m a bit of an idealist, as I truly believe in the power of both soccer and technology to bridge divides between people, races, genders, cultures and countries. Please don’t hesitate to send me a message if you want to talk WPS, MLS, NSCAA, social media, content, design, SEO or really anything soccer-related.