Editor’s note: This story is part of ‘Meet a UChicagoan,’ a regular series focusing on the people who make UChicago a distinct intellectual community. Read about the others here.
Julianne Sitch will be honest: Being the head coach of the men’s soccer team at the University of Chicago was not her “dream job.” How could it have been?
Growing up playing soccer with the boys in the 1980s in Oswego, Illinois, she didn’t have a woman coach to look up to. Data from 40-odd years later shows that, in the realm of women coaching men, not much has changed.
According to 2020 numbers from the U.S. Department of Education, 95 percent of NCAA men’s sports team coaches were male.
Fast forward to her first season at the helm for the UChicago Maroons—unbeaten at 20-0-1, four NCAA Tournament wins under their belts and headed to their second-straight NCAA Final Four—and Sitch has already made history as the first woman head coach to lead a men’s soccer team to a NCAA Final Four. And in doing so, she hopes she’s opened the door for the dreams of others.
“I think it’s important for young girls to see women in leadership roles,” Sitch said. “When they can see it, they can believe it; they dream it, and they continue to go after it.”