RICHMOND, VA (March 12, 2019) – The Michigan Hawks are well known for being a premier powerhouse club based out of Livonia, Michigan. The girls program joined the ECNL in 2010 and since then has been one of the top member clubs in the league. As of March 1st, the club promoted one of their own, Michele Krzisnik, to Director of Coaching (DOC). Not only has Michele been a key part to the club’s success as a coach and Technical Advisor over the last decade, she also grew up playing for the club. She has experienced an enormous amount of success both as a player and coach, and will be a crucial asset to the Michigan Hawks family.

Photo Credit: Michigan Hawks

The ECNL had the opportunity to talk with Michele a bit more about her love for the game, coaching philosophy, how she hopes to impact the female youth game, and a few fun facts. She was open, honest, and extraordinarily inspiring.  Without further ado, the ECNL invites you to “Get to Know Michele.”  

Q: What is your favorite season?
A: Fall, especially in Michigan.

Q: What kind of music do you like?
A: All kinds – I am very eclectic.

Q: What is your ideal vacation?
A: I love the beach.  It is relaxing and my idea of a vacation.

Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
A: I would want to make everyone better people.

Q: What is at the top of your bucket list?
A: I would like to travel to Fiji.

Q: What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
A: Strong-willed, honest, perseverant 

Q: How did you fall in love with the game?
A: My mom put me in a 5-year-old rec program when I was only 4. I played a lot of sports, but soccer was one I chose to continue. I was extremely shy when I was young, and soccer was a game that helped build my confidence. Because I was involved in soccer early on, my love for the game gradually evolved over time.  I was lucky enough to play for great coaches, and met some amazing people, helping me to develop a deeper love for the game.

Q: What is your fondest memory playing the game?
A: I was a very aggressive player and often got called for fouls. In high school, I had an intimidating head coach by the name of Mary Kay Hussey, whom I was scared of. I can remember a game where I got a yellow card. She took me out of the game and made me stand in front of the bench. She was about 6’11, so she towered over me. She made and example of me and put me on display to explain that I was a good player, and do not need to act like a fool and foul.  Coach Hussey helped me change my way of thinking, and really the one who changed who I was as a player and a person.

Q: When did you know you wanted to make the transition from player to coach?
A: It is kind of funny because in the beginning, I never would have thought I wanted to be a coach. However, when I was about 15 years old, I remember watching my high school coach and wondering if I could do that. My high school experience and coach planted a seed, and it was not until later on that I understood the full impact a coach can have.

Q: Who are your role models in coaching and why?
A: As I have previously mentioned my coach at Livonia Stevenson High School, Mary Kay Hussey, inspired my coaching career.

My club coach while playing for the Michigan Hawks, John Boots. He was always someone who believed in me and envisioned me achieving things long before I envisioned them for myself.

Doug Landefeld (Michigan Hawks Executive Director) and Adil Salmoni are both great people and coaches, especially within the female game. I am lucky to be around coaches who I constantly learn from.  

Q: What is your coaching philosophy?
A: It is really important to me to develop both people and players. I want to develop players that are aware, conclusive, and efficient. Players who are confident, have good attitudes, and approach the game as fierce competitors, but are also respectful to everyone around them. Most of all I want to encourage girls and young women to find their best self.

Q: What brought you back to the Hawks?
A: Doug Landefeld contacted me before I graduated from the University of Michigan and brought me back into the club. I started coaching small group training sessions and camps while I was still in college, and enjoyed the environment right away.  I continued coaching after I graduated both for the Michigan Hawks and for St. Mary’s College.

Q: What are three things that your previous experience as a coach and Technical Advisor taught you?
A: 1) Growth is important, and I need to be someone who promotes growth and change. A good leader always does that.

2) Trust is key. Trusting the coaches that work with the players, trusting the players and parents, trusting that we have created an environment that works, and trusting in our process.
3) The power of choice. We offer all different levels within the club and want to make everyone’s experience great by providing options. We enable people to choose their own path. As a game, soccer is a part of someone’s life, but not necessarily their entire life. We believe we have created an avenue for people to choose what they want to do.

Q: What is the first thing you want to do as the DOC of a top-level girls’ club? 
A: One of the first things I want to do is provide a platform to help the girls deal with the psychological aspects of the game. I would like to bring experts in to speak with the girls about leadership, how to cope with pressure, and learn about all the other mental facets of the game. I believe that this is something we have to do for the players, as it is an area of the game that is often overlooked. I personally had access to certain resources as an elite player that others did not. Life is so different for these girls than it was 10 years ago. We need to make sure we provide them with the tools to succeed on and off the field.

Q: How do you hope to move the female youth game forward?
A: There are many people who came before me that served as mentors and also happen to be female. I think that that this was important as it allowed me to see the possibilities. I had a player come to me and say that one thing I taught her was that she can do anything. She watched as I was pregnant while coaching, raise a family, and still continue to make an impact on the field. This is something I didn’t knowingly take away from my previous mentors that I now know people see in me. People do stray away because there are a lot of men in the coaching industry. It is important to have female leaders, but it is also important to have great leaders in general. I hope to inspire others to want to take this career path.

I will often bring some of my older girls out to coach the younger age groups. I insist that they be involved, learn the girl’s names, and share personal information about themselves in order to connect with them. Giving back and making a personal connection is such an important piece. This bring me back to my original ‘why’ for coaching, which is because someone did it for me. Someone else opened doors for me and changed my life. We as people owe that to others. I believe that if we all think that way, this world would be a better place.

In terms of evolving, I am going to keep plugging away in my environment and influencing the girls and families in my club in hopes that it may affect the larger environment.

Q: What are a few words or a phrase that you hope people associate with you as a coach and DOC?
A: Challenge, inspire, appreciate.


About Girls Elite Clubs National League: The Girls Elite Clubs National League (Girls ECNL) was founded in 2009 to enhance the developmental experience of female youth soccer players in the United States through: (i) improving the competitive environment through creation of a true national competitive league; (ii) improving the process for identifying elite female soccer players through a systematic scouting and identification program based on national competitions; and (iii) improving the daily training environment at top female youth soccer clubs through developing best practices and training and organizational guidelines for its member clubs. The Girls ECNL is sanctioned by US Club Soccer and is sponsored by Nike Soccer.


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