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‘We’re not here to do the bare minimum’: Increased investments are quietly turning Racing Louisville into a destination franchise

Image taken over shoulder of players huddled in circle during pre-match speech in locker room
Photo Copyright EM Dash USA TODAY Sports

When visiting Louisville last April, commissioner Jessica Berman called the club “the best-kept secret in the National Women’s Soccer League.”

Although intended as a compliment, it highlighted a lingering issue: While Racing has some of the best facilities and amenities in the NWSL, this wasn’t well-known enough within the league.

“Why do more players not know about what the experience is like on a day-to-day basis for players?” asked the commissioner — with good reason. When defenders Carson Pickett and Abby Erceg were traded to Louisville a few months earlier, neither had heard much about the club and were taken aback when they saw what was awaiting them. 

“I’ve said to three or four people ‘Why do we not know about the facilities?’” said Erceg shortly after her arrival. “They are absolutely amazing. I’ve never been to a club that just had facilities that are so great.”

As the 2023 season began, the club began making staffing changes, including hiring Racing’s first general manager, Ryan Dell, and adding former player Bev Yanez as an assistant coach. Both additions were praised by players as progress towards making Louisville the “destination market” Berman described.

She wasn’t alone in saying she’d heard good things before her arrival with midfielders Taylor Flint (née Kornieck) and Marisa DiGrande (née Viggiano) making similar statements about being specifically drawn by what they knew of the club’s culture and resources.  

As the team heads into its 2024 season, there are clear signs this investment in staff and player support is paying off. Players finally seem aware of Racing’s offerings ahead of time instead of being shocked upon arrival. After being traded in January, defender Arin Wright said she’d heard only good things about the club and told the media “I knew they’d built something great here from all the rumors throughout the league.”

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