Coach Louw brings South African style to Arizona soccer
Arizona soccer has been racking up the travel miles this season. It opened the year in Florida, took a quick trip to America’s heartland to play Ohio State in early September and is now in the middle of a five-game Pac-12 road swing that has the team playing up in Oregon this weekend.
For assistant coach Kylie Louw, all of the TSA screenings and complimentary beverages are second nature by now, considering her soccer career has taken her to more places than Carmen Sandiego.
“I’ve seen teams, players, tournaments, and styles all over the world,” Louw said. “It has really helped me understand the game better.”
Louw, who is from Johannesburg, South Africa, came to Arizona in February when first year head coach Tony Amato was assembling his staff to try and rebuild a crumbling program. Amato knew Louw when she was a midfielder at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas, where Amato used to coach.
Cecilia Alvarez / The Daily Wildcat Coach Kylie Louw interacts with the players on Tuesday, Oct. 8. 2013. The wildcats are preparing to travel out to Oregon State for a match on Friday night.
According to Louw, Amato was a huge part of her collegiate success on the pitch.
“When Tony joined at Stephen F. Austin, I was in my sophomore year and I was thinking about transferring,” Louw admitted. “Tony spoke to me and asked me to stay and train with the team for a few weeks and see how I liked it, and after like three or four days, I walked into his office and told him I was staying. I wouldn’t want to learn from anyone else.”
Her choice to stay at Stephen F. Austin may have been the best decision she has made, as she went on to become an All-American in athletics and academics and a three-time Southland Conference Player of the Year for the Ladyjacks before she finished her career in 2012.
Playing and succeeding at Division I soccer in the U.S. was just the tip of the iceberg for Louw.
In the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Louw was part of the South African women’s soccer team, which was playing in its first-ever Olympic tournament. Although the team didn’t collect any medals, it helped advance a team still looking for its first berth in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Louw said her experiences growing up and playing in both South Africa and the U.S. are what helped her make the national team and become a better player and coach overall.
“I was playing at such a young age,” Louw said. “I was playing with boys till I was 14, played with girls all across Africa and then recently played overseas. I saw a lot of everything, which gave me a good range.”
For current Wildcat players, Louw’s experience has been valuable and has helped lead the team to one of the program’s best starts, at 5-4-3.
“She knows her stuff,” said senior midfielder Jazmin Ponce. “She’s more advanced than any other player, because I guess she was the oldest one on her team, so she knows what we all need to do and has a really good understanding of the game.”
It’s difficult to say what future adventures are in store for Louw, but for now, she said she’s glad to be in Tucson.
“I’m loving it,” said Louw. “I’ve really bonded with the girls, and Tucson feels like home. I’ve enjoyed it and I’m trying to give everything I have to make this program work.”
— Follow Brian Peel @BrianPeel91