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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Anson Dorrance, June 11, 1991. Interview L-0054. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Tough, competitive female athletes

Dorrance describes the "powerful, strong-willed women" he brought into the Carolina system in his early years as women's head coach. These were not genteel ladies; they were athletic competitors focused on winning. They also paved the way for future female athletes who embraced both being ladylike and winning soccer games.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Anson Dorrance, June 11, 1991. Interview L-0054. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

What happened when these new players came in and displaced the old ones?
Very traumatic. The chemistry on those first several teams was very bad. It was very bad for a thousand reasons. First of all, recruiting a group like that and bringing them in displacing the group that had started would be cathartic anyway. But then you've got a group that was displaced that basically started the club and lobbied to establish it here. And basically the reason they did all these things even though we all have a kind of pioneer spirit, they basically did it so they could play and get full University support and all this sort of thing. So when these new kids came on it was very clear they were better. It wasn't an issue of "I'm better than this player." No, these players were clearly national caliber players. But it was a feeling like, you know, "We've worked very hard to establish this at the school and you've gone off and recruited the sun, the moon, the stars and now we're reserved players." It was very disappointing for them. And so there was that chemical nightmare to deal with. Then, to be honest, the first couple of groups of recruiting classes we brought in were brought in with one thought in mind and that was basically to clean house. These weren't the sort of ladies that would do well at finishing schools in a delicate social function and they weren't the sort of players that I think were the best players to recruit to represent a University. But they were very powerful, strong willed women and they were used to cleaning house athletically. They came in here and cleaned out a starting position for themselves and proceeded for four straight years to just destroy everyone we played. And that freshman class, basically, walked through here with four straight national championships. They won the first year and we won every year since. And after they won the first year, their goal was to win every year. And this is a group that was accustomed to being successful and they had a real hardness to them as a result. There's a positive and a negative side to that, I think. I look back on those first couple of years and as a coach, they were very difficult teams for me to coach. But I look back with the perspective of coaching the current teams which are incredible easy and you know, from this perspective, you know, we could self-righteously say things like, "Well, it wasn't really a good thing that we brought them in and these weren't the nicest girls in the world to represent the University," but I don't have that attitude. I liked all these girls. They had some incredibly colorful qualities. They were great and aggressive leaders in the respect that I think maybe some of the modern girls wouldn't appreciate because these girls fought for everything they had done. These were the true pioneers. They were given nothing. They were accustomed to taking things and so they weren't as genteel as the sort of young ladies we can recruit now. But they had some great qualities. It was funny. They were the sort of girls who would go downtown, burn it to the ground, you know, getting wasted. Basically, sort of irresponsible socially. But then, they were on time for every single practice and in practice they worked themselves until they were bleeding and throwing up. They had a tremendous commitment to victory and to personal athletic excellence. And for that I admired them because they were a tremendous group. And even though, off the field, I think they all hated each other. But once the game began, there was a collective fury that just intimidated everyone they played against. And I really look back on a lot of those players with tremendous admiration because of the qualities that they gave us. Because those qualities are still in place. Now, I guess we have the luxury of recruiting players with those qualities that represent the University better since; better students, better representative of the school. But the legacy those first teams gave us is a collective fury, you know, "never say die" training mentality and their legacy lives on. And all we've done really is polish it and made it more socially acceptable and obviously following an image that I think we should try to represent the University with, which I think we have. It is one of good scholars, very articulate spokesmen and I think, very positive role models. And I couldn't have said all those things in the early eighties about the girls I was training.