Kansas City has its first women’s premier soccer team, the Kansas City Shock, and leading the team as head coach is Harrisonville’s Nicole Ortiz.
“It’s surreal,” Ortiz, 28, said. “When I started coaching, I just went into the club scene. I wanted to go into the college scene also, then this came up. It’s really surreal because on Twitter, I’m getting all these followers and stuff. It’s awesome though knowing that I’m the coach of that. It’s really opening my eyes to a lot of soccer things that I didn’t know too.”
Ortiz got the head coaching job last summer at a tournament the Shock hosted.
“My husband was actually the one that found the team on Facebook,” Ortiz said. “Last summer, the first of July, they had an opening tournament so I played in it. I was going to try and play for the team, but I also coached club soccer, so I thought maybe I would try and look down the coaching path.”
Ortiz approached owner Shawn Daugherty and asked him if they had a head coach. He told her that they hadn’t really thought about hiring one yet, so Ortiz expressed her interest and was later hired.
“Our whole phrase is ‘dare to be different’ and this is something that is different because I’m so young and I don’t have much experience as other coaches,” Ortiz said. “But I’m willing to take it on.”
Her husband, Edson Ortiz, was also later hired as her assistant coach.
“It’s actually really good,” Ortiz said. “We balance really well. He has only coached men. I’ve coached women and I’ve coached boys a little bit, but he doesn’t really understand the female perspective. I have to remind him of that.”
Edson coached at Graceland University and helped the college win a national tournament for NAIA.
“He has really good experience,” Ortiz said. “I think we are going to balance out really well together.”
Before coaching the Shock, Ortiz was an assistant coach for Harrisonville High School, where she currently teaches physical education. She helped lead the team to their first-ever fourth-place trophy in 2011.
“It was great,” Ortiz said. “I loved it. Dan Coleman (the head coach) and I worked really well together.”
Because of Ortiz’ connection to Harrisonville, one of her former players, Tina Harold, who currently plays at Park University, will be a member of the Shock this season.
“I still have that connection because I still have players playing there,” Ortiz said. “They know me and it’s a good connection to the Shock. Being at Harrisonville was awesome. It was good to start out. We had some good successful years that I was there.”
Harold is one of 25 players currently on the Shock roster, which includes members from Scotland, Australia and Jamaica.
“We are reaching all over the world,” Ortiz said.
The players include current college soccer stars, plus recent graduates and others that are the same age or older than Ortiz.
It’s a good mix,” Ortiz said. “I have some current college players and some that are my age. A lot of them have just gotten done with season and are fresh out of college and we have ones that are still in college. It’s a big range that we have.”
Right now, the players are in pre-season fitness training after being chosen from the two try-outs held in December and the middle of March. The full team will be together Wednesday, May 15, have two weeks of practice, then compete in their first game Saturday, May 25.
“It’s almost kind of a twiddling our thumbs and waiting for the season to start,” Ortiz said. “Everybody is all on their own, doing their fitness right now.”
The season will last until the second week of July then go into playoffs, starting with the division games against teams from St. Louis, Des Moines and the Quad Cities. There are 70 teams all over the country, including Canada, in the Women’s Premier Soccer League.
The home stadium for the Kansas City Shock hasn’t been officially announced yet, but Ortiz hopes it will be settled this week. After that announcement, season-ticket information and game-day prices will be announced.
But Ortiz is really looking forward to late-May, when her team will finally step foot on the field and start a game.
“I have been with the program for about 10 months, so just getting our feet off the ground, getting ready to go and putting a good product out on the field,” she said. “I’m just ready to start playing, honestly. I’m ready to put them on the field and see them go to work.”
Ortiz graduated from HHS and was a four-year starter on the girls’ soccer team, garnering various awards, including all-state honorable mention two years. She played college soccer at Graceland University, where she made two National NAIA Tournament appearances and helped her team become conference champions all four years in the Heart of America conference. Ortiz began coaching club soccer in 2010 with the Kansas City United Soccer Club and Agape Soccer Club. She continues to coach the U11 Attack girls team and the U14 Brass boys team.
For more information on the Shock, visit their website at www.kansascityshock.com or on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/KansasCityShock.