Title: Oral History Interview with Anson Dorrance, June 11, 1991. Interview L-0054.
Interviewer: Festle, Mary Jo
Interviewee: Dorrance, Anson
Abstract: Anson Dorrance was born in Bombay, India, and spent his boyhood in places like Singapore and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, but every three years his family spent three months in Lewisburg, North Carolina, Dorrance's father's hometown. These ties to North Carolina eventually brought Dorrance to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where after a successful career as a soccer player, he became coach of the men's soccer team. Dorrance enjoyed a fruitful eleven years as men's coach, but he has earned lasting acclaim as the coach of the women's team. Since 1979, he has put together a remarkable record of success (at the time of this 1991 interview, his teams had won nine national championships). He did so in part because of his attention to the complexities of coaching women, whose thinking and speaking styles he believes differ from those of men. Dorrance believes that his appreciation of these differences, most important of which might be what he sees as discomfort with competition in women, allowed him to teach his athletes to embrace competitive excellence. Dorrance's observations about the complex relationships between female athletes—and between female athletes and their coach—are at the heart of this interview. Dorrance also describes the birth and development of the women's soccer team at UNC, changes in attitudes toward female athletes, and his own athletic career. Researchers interested in women in sports, coaching or leadership strategies, and gender relationships will find a great deal of material in this interview.