Meet and Greet with Racing Louisville FC’s Head Coach Christy Holly
In August, Christy Holly was named as Racing Louisville FC’s first head coach. To help the fans to get to know Coach Holly, a virtual meet and greet session was held for season ticket holders (good old Zoom). Coach Holly covered many topics including his history, tactical preferences, coaching role models, thoughts on the academy, women in leadership roles, and his community engagement plans. If you ever have an opportunity to attend a session like this, it’s highly encouraged.
Coach Holly began by summarizing his career. He had a playing career in the top flight of Irish soccer (his home nation) before coming to America and getting into coaching. His experiences with his younger sister shaped his road to the women’s game, who took part at the youth international levels where he saw the disparities between the men’s and women’s games. He has coached at multiple levels of the sport, including collegiate, professional club, and international soccer. At the professional club level, he served in various capacities at NWSL side Sky Blue, including as head coach. His time with the USWNT put him in an opposition analyst role where he provided detailed insights on any potential opponent the team may face. In February of this year, he was contacted by James O’Conner who made an instant impression and helped to pave the way for his arrival at the club.
Building a team from scratch is never easy and Coach Holly recognizes those challenges. He “wants to build something that outlasts me”. While he prefers a back three formations (3-4-1-2 or 3-4-2-1), he admitted that may be a challenge as a newer, growing club and may be more likely to go with a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3. This, however, will be dictated by the situation at hand and the squad available. His focus is to highlight the team’s strengths and remain flexible at all times. Coach Holly looks for flexible players, has a “blue-collar” work ethic, and who have humility. He wants to “recruit the person and the player”. While the expansion draft has not yet happened, Coach Holly has been hard at work getting things together for the first season. He has been watching colleges match, most of which have been ACC or SEC. He believes in the power of the college network and plans to leverage that as he builds his squad. On learning about players, he does not like to ask a coach about their players but will ask about opposing players to get more honest feedback. There has also been some review of overseas players. He seemed to have alluded to interest in a player from his home country of Ireland.
On his inspirations, he cited two coaches; Arsenal legend, Arsene Wenger, and former USWNT head coach Jill Ellis. Coach Holly views Wenger as a “visionary” and someone who put his players and his club before himself. Ellis was someone who has seen a lot of success in the women’s game. He admired her ability to recognize her weaknesses and leverage those she surrounds herself with. Not bad company to model yourself after.
Coach Holly said that he has a passion for youth soccer. He has been to some academy practices and games and wants to remain connected. There is a sense of responsibility and engagement towards supporting the youth setup. He recognizes the vital importance the academy will play in supporting the grassroots of the sport in Louisville. He would like to make this one area of focus for his community outreach. He also sees sports as a way to heal and bring communities together and would also like to also do related outreach events with that as a focus.
Coach Holly was candid about how he viewed women in roles within the organization. He has a desire to have females on his staff and wants to give them platforms to learn and grow, all while still selecting the best candidate for the role. He cited his time at Sky Blue and several roles that he had occupied by females. He did not shy away from his acknowledgment that some of the top roles in the organization are held by males. On this topic, he was very passionate and genuine. Female inclusion in the team has been a desire of many amongst the fan base, and he shares in that desire.
It was an enjoyable experience to hear directly from Coach Holly. He was very personable and open with all the questions asked of him. A lot of his talk got me excited and optimistic about the direction of the team. While it’s still early, I am happy that he is a member of the organization and I am looking forward to seeing the product he brings to the field. Louisville City set the bar high, but I have faith that he will replicate that level of success.