With over 500 wins, 14 SEC titles, and more than 20 years of coaching experience under her belt, Becky Burleigh built University of Florida’s women’s soccer program from scratch and grew it to be one of the highest achieving programs in the nation. A lot has changed in the 15 years she’s been head coach at UF, but Becky has continued to evolve and learn, helping her players excel on and off the field. On this week’s episode of the WHOA GNV Podcast, Collin Austin and Michael Dees dive deep into UF soccer, the impact of social media and the importance of good leadership with Head Coach Becky Burleigh.
Becky started playing soccer when she was 10 after her family moved to Florida from Massachusetts. At first soccer was just a way to make new friends, but eventually it turned into a passion. She continued to play through high school and was recruited to play at Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina. There she experienced what it truly took to be a great leader.
After graduating, Becky spent five years as head coach at Berry College in Rome Georgia until UF started putting together a soccer program in 1994. She jumped on the opportunity to move back to Florida and help build UF’s soccer program from the ground up. Over the years she’s continued to evolve and develop her leadership skills to better understand her players and provide them with meaningful guidance.
“Everything is different, and if I don’t recognize that and find a way meet [my players] where they are then I’m just going to be this old school coach that can’t connect,” she told Collin and Mike.
Becky understands that her athletes are facing challenges she never had to face when she played soccer, so she made it a goal to try and address these challenges and teach her players valuable lessons. Each week her and her team sit down for group discussions on topics the players choose. They call this Real World Weekly, and it gives Becky an opportunity to educate and empower her team.
After she retires from coaching, Becky plans to write a book titled #Can’tMakeThatShitUp, a collection of all the outlandish soccer stories she’s heard in her career.
“There’s a lot of stories in soccer that would just blow your mind, and you can’t make them up.”