I caught up with Reign FC owner Bill Predmore and coach Laura Harvey on Monday night as a follow-up to the news that general manager Amy Carnell was stepping down for personal reasons. The move was first reported by Cascadia Soccer Wire.
Harvey will assume the GM duties as Seattle heads into the 2013 season in the brand-new National Women’s Soccer League, and the season opener is Sunday at Chicago.
Here is a transcript of the phone interview:
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BILL PREDMORE, owner
(On how the team is positioned to handle this change…) “I actually think we’re in OK shape. The timing, of course, is less than ideal; though I’m not sure there’s ever an ideal time to do something like this. In terms of where we are as a club, we feel pretty good about things and we’re not overly concerned about making a change at this point. It probably looks far worse than it actually is.”
(On if his role will change at all to assume any GM duties…) “No. I really don’t think it will. I think my ideal situation is really to let Laura now operate the club on a day-to-day basis. There are going to be strategic decisions that we might want to make together, but the idea here is to hand the reins off to Laura and let her drive things. I think we’ve been realizing it more over the last few weeks that there’s some sort of strange, I guess almost unexplainable connection between the two of us. There’s a philosophical alignment in what we want out of the team, what we want to be, what we think is important, what we value, and so I feel very good about her really having that ownership of where things are going. I think she would make the same kinds of decisions that I would make in her place. To clarify there, I never have and I never will be making any decisions about what goes on on the field. We brought her in really expecting that that was going to be her area of focus. I think what we’ve found, and ultimately been pleasantly surprised by, is that she’s capable of much more than we hired her to do. I think this will be a great chance for her to show it.”
(On if there was any consideration of an outside here, if not a GM then just another voice to have in the front office…) “No, honestly. My suspicion is for the foreseeable future, and quite possibly never, I don’t know that that is a problem we feel we have and one that needs to get solved. There are certainly going to be things where we’ll need some support from the front office staff that we may have needed before with Amy here, so I can see some of those support roles. We may have a person here or a person there, but in terms of driving the strategic direction of the club, I don’t know that another voice in the room is needed at this point.”
(On if this was a sudden change and whether the team has had team to prepare…) “This was definitely not a situation where Amy walked in, we learned about a situation and had to simply react to it. We’ve had some time to think about it and plan what we wanted to do and talk about a transition in a way that makes sense. We had a scrimmage last night and we talked with the players and met with the entire staff. We talked them through it and answered questions and wanted to make sure everybody knew that was going on, so not to be surprised when we shared the information publicly. Again, it’s inevitable when any transition is made that balls get dropped and challenges are created, but I think we probably had enough of an opportunity to minimize those situations. We really don’t expect there to be any material issues that are created by the change.”
(On why Carnell is leaving and if the relationship is ending negatively…) “What I had talked to Amy about was that I wouldn’t talk in any detail about the reasons behind this — that they are of a personal nature. I said that if she didn’t want me discussing it and she wanted to do that, then that would be fine. I don’t feel comfortable going into too much detail. If Amy feels like that’s something she wants to talk about, then it would really be up to her to talk about it.”
LAURA HARVEY, GM and head coach
(On how this change might affect the roster…) “I was majorly involved in creating what the roster looks like now, so in terms of the job-role changes, it won’t affect the roster at all. … Especially when everything is so new, the potential for change may happen. We know obviously within the roster we have (Megan) Rapinoe coming back in June and little things like that. We’re expecting that our roster will change, that is inevitable to happen at some stage in the season, but it won’t be due to this job-role change. It will be due to what it should be, which is the performance of the players and what’s right for the team moving forward to make the team as successful as it can possible be.”
(On her similar role with the Arsenal Ladies…) “Back home, the way that clubs are run, the head coach as you guys term it over here is heavily involved in recruitment and signing of players and all the things that go on with creating a team. The GM role is a little bit different than how it is set up over here, and the GM back home at Arsenal is Vic Akers who had obviously run the team for years and years and years. He was sort of more of a mentor through the process rather than a hands-on type of role, so a lot of decision making on day-to-day things that happened with the team I was either responsible for or had a major say for what happened there at Arsenal. To come here and have a GM next to me was something that was a little different anyway, so to take on those responsibilities isn’t something that’s new to me. It’s something that I’m pretty comfortable with.”
(On feeling going into the season…) “I feel pretty happy with the group. We obviously went to Japan and we spent a good 12 days out there; we got to know each other pretty quickly in that type of environment where you’re around each other 24/7. You get to know each other on and off the field quite quickly, and playing the caliber of competition that we did out in Japan, we got to see a lot of players straightaway on the field and see what areas we needed to work on and stuff. I probably describe this is a young, hungry, wanting-to-succeed group at the moment, which for a coach is exactly what you want because they’re willing to listen and learn. They want to be the best they possibly can be, and our job, both from a front office point of view and from a coaching/technical point of view, is giving those players the best opportunity to succeed. I think no matter what job roles people are doing that has to be a priority, and that definitely is. I think it’s something that throughout preseason we’ve made a major priority in making sure we got the right caliber of player, the right type of player in looking at playing the style that we want to look at. We’re pretty confident and happy with the roster that we have in this moment in time.”