CIU’s Farnsworth Coaches at United World Games
By Bob Holmes
Imagine you’re the coach of a soccer team that is about to compete in an international tournament. But you’ve never met your players. That’s the situation Columbia International University Women’s Soccer Coach Kara Farnsworth found herself in over the summer. Not only had she not met the players, the players had never met each other.
Farnsworth’s reputation in collegiate soccer earned her a spot as the coach of a girls 19-and-under team in the Olympic-style United World Games played in Austria in June. The American team, known as The Stripes (for the stripes in the U.S. flag) consisted of some of the top talent among college-bound girls from across the United States.
“The good news was that by the time the tournament started they all knew each other’s names,” Farnsworth said with a chuckle in her voice, noting also the quick assessments she had to make to formulate a winning team.
“I chose a formation that I think fit us really well,” Farnsworth said. “We didn’t have a lot of defenders so we chose a system that didn’t utilize a lot of defenders, and just tried to score as many goals as possible.”
The team won its first game and finished third in the tournament. But beyond results on the field, Farnsworth says the tournament was a unique opportunity for her because it was the first time she was not coaching a group of Christians. But she still communicated to the team that they were playing for something “bigger than themselves.”
“There was one half we didn’t play together as a team. It was selfish, it was ugly, it was individual-style play,” Farnsworth said. “I pulled them in at half time, I looked at them and said, ‘You’re here to represent your country, and try to do something not many other people get the opportunity to do. You have an experience that you’ll never share with anybody else. To do that together is a lot better than to try to do that on your own.’ They took off after that.”
Farnsworth says it was definitely different from coaching the CIU Rams, but the experience had its own rewards.
“They were a fun group. They had a lot of personality, they had a lot of tenacity, which I love. They worked incredibly hard.”