Utah Avalanche

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Company: Utah Avalanche, Salt Lake City, UT
Entry Submitted By: Melissa Sones Consulting
Company Description: The Utah Avalanche is one of the most successful competitive girls’ soccer clubs in in the country. Under Executive Director and Founder Joanna Barney, it has given 100% of its athletes the opportunity to play for college programs, 191 since its founding in 2001 – making Barney and UA sports legends.
Nomination Category: Individual Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Mentor or Coach of the Year – Business

Nomination Title: Joanna Barney, Executive Director

Describe for the judges the nominated individual's activities and accomplishments that supported women in business since the beginning of July last year (up to 525 words):

When Joanna Barney – a coaching role model in women’s sports – started playing soccer at age 4, this two-time All American knew the boys had it all. In 1978, Barney was literally told she couldn’t play because she was a girl.

And so, in 2001 Utah Avalanche was born, one of the most successful competitive girls’ sports clubs in the country, in soccer in particular; and arguably in the world of women’s sports. In the Award(s) year July 1, 2012 through September 2013, UA, under Executive Director of Coaching Barney, saw its roster of teams jump 50%; number of athletes 30%; and those signing to elite college programs 18%. Barney is a sports legend because 100% of her female athletes have been given the opportunity to play for college programs, 191 since 2001 – 18% is simply the latest leap in participation.

Barney is a coaching legend, too, because Utah was at the bottom; and now this Utah club can compete with anyone in the country. Barney’s 33 teams (up from 20 last year) train only at the “Premier Level,” which means achieving their potential. And Barney’s successes include the financial: Over $12 million in scholarships since 2001. This year saw the introduction of a groundbreaking program aimed at reducing the financial sacrifice many parents make so their girls can compete by asking the “haves” to share with the “have not’s”; 1000-mile rides to trainings; parental support when parent(s) need to work.

Many Barney protégés are household words. Kealia Ohai is one reason the U.S. won this year’s Under-20 World Cup; she and others landed at UNC, the top college when it comes to female soccer play. “Hard work” is Barney’s coaching barometer; and so three years ago she offered her teams up for membership in the prestigious Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) against a chorus of “you’ll never make it.” With stepped-up training, UA did. Then there was Barney’s decision to create a world-class college showcase – the tournament where elite collegiate coaches scout for top talent – in Utah of all places. Fast forward to this year: team participation went from ten three years ago to turning away 27; rooms booked soared from 700 to 1500 this year; those elite coaches the critics insisted would never – ever – travel to little old Utah? Get in line!

Know this about Barney, too – when her athletes go to college, it’s not “just” to play soccer. It’s to become ever more empowered by selecting the school that’s right no matter the athletic aspect. There’s Columbia; Stanford; medical school; and the athletic scholarships that allow her players to go where they never would otherwise. The key is the empowerment athleticism offers when tailored to girls' unique needs, which as this veteran coach (Barney oversees a a 33-coach staff) knows has little to do with those of boys. As Barney says, “My focus is building a pathway for girls to succeed. Every girl is great at something. My job as a leader is helping girls find that something; giving them every opportunity to develop it; and removing any obstacle that prevents them from reaching it."

Provide a brief biography of the nominated individual (up to 125 words):

Joanna Barney is both a legend and role model in women’s sports. In 2001, this former All-American soccer player inaugurated the Utah Avalanche, today one of the most successful competitive girls’ sports clubs in the country, in soccer in particular; and arguably in the world of women’s sports. Under Executive Director Barney, in this Awards year, UA has seen its roster of teams – now at 33 - jump 50%; the number of athletes 30%; and those signing to elite college programs 18%. 100% of Barney’s female athletes have been given the opportunity to play for college programs, 191 since 2001. Barney has helped raise over $12 million in scholarships – many going to girls who would never have otherwise have been given the opportunity.