Fire and Ice SC Head Coach/Owner Lindsay Kennedy Eversmeyer smiles while talking on the phone

Lindsay Kennedy Eversmeyer – The Pressure Is On

Last week, Southwestern Illinois College announced a new Head Coach for their men’s soccer team – Lindsay Kennedy Eversmeyer. If you’ve been around soccer in Saint Louis for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard her name in passing. Most recently, before the announcement, she was Head Coach and Owner of Fire & Ice SC, a Championship-winning WPSL team that celebrated their 10 year anniversary this year. What got her here, though? A lot of dedication and hard work. 

Lindsay started playing soccer at age 5 and, through high school, was a star player for the Alton High School Redbirds. She continued playing for the Kansas Jayhawks and then the Harris Stowe Hornets to round out her college career. She made her way to the St. Louis Steamers in 2005, a professional indoor men’s team that played in the MISL. There, her debut was against Milwaukee Wave in February, making her the first woman ever to play in the MISL, and the fourth ever to play for a men’s professional indoor soccer team.

After that, in 2006, she made her way to River Cities FC, a WPSL team out of Edwardsville, IL. They won the Conference Championship that year, but folded after the next season. She moved onto coaching, both with Belleville Futbol Club as well as individual training sessions and camps, and also worked at Cardinal Glennon, in the Child Development Center. She started Fire & Ice in 2012, with their first season taking place in 2013. At the same time, she returned to Harris Stowe, this time as the Women’s Soccer Head Coach. In 2014, she moved over to UMSL and was the Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach for two years.

As she was building her coaching experience during these years, she was also building a family. If you’ve ever been to a Fire & Ice game, you’ve seen some of her family, including her husband, Aaron, and sometimes one or both of her children, Kaleb (22) and Gryfin (12). She says of them, “My support system is larger than life. I am so fortunate to have an amazing husband, kids, parents, family, friends, etc. that help push me forward and keep my spirits lifted through all the tough times.”

Accomplishing all of this despite all of the barriers in her way as a woman wasn’t easy. When asked if she’d ever had an opposing head coach or assistant coach treat her differently because of her sex, she had this to say: “The answer is yes. Does it happen as much nowadays to me personally, I would have to say no. However, that is because I am fortunate enough to have had good players make my programs successful where male coaches now respect me. It took some time for me to earn that though. It didn’t come as easy as it would for a guy starting to coach.” In my last article here, she mentioned that at times referees would assume her male Assistant Coaches were the Head Coach and begin talking to them.

Often, women in positions of any sort will be questioned about their qualifications, abilities, and knowledge in the field/sport. And sometimes those questions hit differently, especially when life is extremely busy and we’re all stretched thin. Sometimes women back down or give up, simply because the fight has become too much to handle. She offered how her life experiences have helped her push past those instances: “I think this is something that I learned at a young age. Growing up around boys, I always had to prove that I belonged. If I wanted to play with all the kids, I had to overcome my fear of failure and act like I was good enough. Plus, I am stubborn. I’ve said before, when you tell me I can’t do something, I will do my best to show you that I can. The one piece of advice I would give a woman that is about to give up is: Keep going. You’ll never know if something will work if you don’t try it. Failure is not a bad thing. Failure happens because someone courageous stepped up to try something new. The people that talk about someone failing are the people that were too scared to even try. Those people’s opinions don’t matter. If it makes you happy, go for it! The worst case scenario is you learn.”

Being a woman in a male-dominated field is rough. Often, we have to prove ourselves to men. We can’t just do a satisfactory job and get by, we’re expected to ‘be perfect’ so we can ‘keep up’ with men. This was reflected when she was asked if she was nervous about her new role as a men’s coach at SWIC: “I’m not really nervous about the coaching piece. I feel like I definitely have something to bring to the table. I guess I’m most nervous on how they will respond when I challenge them. I’m all about empowering my players to be their best and sometimes that takes telling them things they don’t want to hear. How they will respond hearing that from a woman could be different than if they hear it from a man. However, I have been working with them since the spring and so far they have been really respectful!” 

A certain kind of pressure comes with creating a space for women and femmes within male-dominated fields. It’s a gnawing, relentless, ever-present pressure within ourselves, but also tangible from those around you who assume you won’t be able to live up to that created space. We not only feel it for ourselves, but for the women and femmes in the future that hope to continue creating more space. Lindsay knows that pressure, as now she’s one of only a handful of women to coach men’s teams in the US, and the first in Saint Louis. “I feel the pressure not for myself, but for future female coaches that want to coach on the men’s side. If I really am the first female Head Men’s Soccer Coach ever in Saint Louis (note: after some research and double checking with Saint Louis Soccer Hall of Fame’s Jim Leeker, she most likely is), I feel like I have to get this right or the next woman trying to coach men will be denied and I’ll be used as the example as to why it doesn’t work.” Again, not only do we have our own lives, families and friends to keep up with outside of work, we’re often burdened with the pressure that if we don’t keep this space open for future women, it’ll all collapse and we’re to blame. Think about that next time you question a woman’s fandom or knowledge of the game, or your work teammate’s ability to do her job.

Personally, I have zero doubts about Lindsay’s ability to break down another barrier in this city. She’s been hustling since high school. While some of us were dawdling in The Pit (the parking lot of AHS) and partying on the weekends, the most you’d see of Lindsay was her running to this practice or that training. She’s never stopped, never given up. And with that brings hundreds (if not thousands) of players she’s coached and improved. Young girls have looked up to her for years because, through her actions, she’s shown them the space she’s created for them in the future.

I asked her about an ultimate goal. MLS? NWSL? What if a club in Europe came calling? “Saint Louis is my home and I don’t see it changing any time soon. The best job I could shoot for would be to be on Saint Louis City SC’s coaching staff should they get an NWSL team. I would love to be involved with a professional women’s team from my hometown! If an MLS team reached out, I would definitely be honored, too.” Saint Louis soccer community, take her willingness to stay here and improve the game, and therefore this city as a whole, as a gift. Go watch her team play, watch her style of coaching, watch how she interacts with players, refs, and other coaches. Take advantage of her staying in the area and learn from her. After all, you don’t come across many like Coach Z very often.

-Sarah 🖤


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