No coach, no problem: 5C women’s club soccer maintains intensity without authority

Sydney Ghobadian SC '24 shields ball from opponent during game against Chapman University during a game on Nov. 13th. (Emma Jensen • The Student Life)
Sydney Ghobadian SC ’24 shields ball from opponent during game against Chapman University during a game on Nov. 13th. (Emma Jensen • The Student Life)

After the final whistle, the away team asks themselves, “How did we lose to a team without a coach?” All the victorious Claremont Football Club needs is student leadership, passion and community.

While many club sports have set rosters, the 5C women’s club soccer team opens its practices to everyone, only locking in a roster for games. 

Open practices give the team a much broader reach across the 5Cs, according to Molly Engan PZ ’26.

“Before coming to Pitzer, I had hoped to play soccer either through intramural or a club team,” she said. “What I had not expected was to meet so many people from other 5Cs.”

This expansive community especially helps first-years such as Engan.

“Almost every time I go to a dining hall, I run into friends from the team, [whether] Pitzer or not,” she said. “Soccer has been a great way to branch out into the larger college community and even get advice on what cross-college classes to take or what events are happening at other schools.”

When players step onto the field, their friendly attitudes quickly shift to a laser-focused competitive spirit to stay at the top of their game and achieve results. Sophia Drezner SC ’23 said that the intensity comes naturally to the team.

“We have a ton of interest from people in all years and from all five schools,” she said. “So that makes it a competitive environment where people are working hard to earn their spot on the roster.” 

But it’s not a coach that forces this intensity into the team culture — the players themselves choose to cultivate this environment.

“We do not have coaches, so it is entirely captain-led,” said Drezner. “Everyone on the team can have an impact and a voice in our culture, and that is really special.”

Drezner, who began on the CMS varsity team, said that this aspect of club soccer is especially important to her given previous experiences with team cultures.

“Here, the players are the sole voices in creating our style of play and connecting with each other on and off the field,” she said. “[It] has been an amazing and refreshing experience compared to my past experience with overbearing coaches who mistreat their players and do not value the personnel they have on the team.”

The 5C club team is one of the few teams in its league that does not have a coach. Captain Lilah King-Hails SC ’23 believes this has given them an advantage over other teams. 

“I am very proud of this team for being so successful,” King-Hails said. “We won our league last season while also being completely student-run with no coaching or outside assistance.”

The team’s schedule is also lighter than other club sports, allowing players to pursue other campus activities. 

“While I love soccer and am so happy to continue playing in college, I wanted space to explore other interests as well,” Engan said. “With practice two times a week, a weekend game, as well as some social gatherings, I am able to improve my skills and build friendships yet not feel burdened by the commitment.”

While Engan is just beginning her collegiate club soccer journey, King-Hails’ time with the team is coming to a close. 

“As a senior captain, I am very sad about this being my last year to play soccer with this group,” King-Hails said. “I have had such amazing times and made lifelong friends — this team has made my college life infinitely better.”

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