Last week, Sky Blue FC announced a partnership with NJ Discover to boost the online broadcast of Sky Blue FC games. Included in the announcement was the news that 2015 broadcasts will include a new play-by-play guy, Charlie Flowe.
I am thrilled to join Sky Blue FC as their play-by-play voice. It is an opportunity to be part of an organization in which I think very highly. I believe 2015 is a pivotal year for women's soccer on both the domestic and international levels, and I cannot wait for the season to kick off.
So who exactly is Charlie Flowe? Well, I had a chance to sit down and talk to the new voice of Sky Blue FC late last week.
Charlie was born and raised in Newport News, Virginia, and soccer is in his blood. He played 4 years of soccer at Ferguson High School, and it was his time playing there that showed him that the game is a level playing field.
His love of soccer never went away, but it was hard for him to watch growing up. He recalls times when the only games he and his friends could watch were on VHS tapes brought over from Europe. That's an unthinkable idea now with VHS tapes being almost extinct and the internet bringing almost any match to our fingertips. He credited the 1986 and 1990 World Cups with solidifying his love of the game, and also acknowledges the 1991 Women's World Cup for sparking his interest in the Women's game.
Soccer isn't his chosen career. Having obtained a Bachelor's of Science in Project Operation Management from Drexel, he went on to become a teacher. Coincidentally he tutors English as a second language teacher in Chester, PA, home of the Philadelphia Union. While his professional life doesn't revolve around soccer, the sport still plays a big role in his life.
Charlie is a licensed U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) coach and NSCAA Level 1 Goalkeeper coach. He's been a paid trainer and volunteer coach for the last 13 years, and works with Future Captain Sports & YTP Sports. He was a founding member of the Bella Vista Futbol Club in 2002. It was playing with Bella Vista that Charlie met John DiCrisio, and Chris Bull. The three would go on to form the World Sports Show in 2010, to fill a gap in coverage of the local soccer teams, the Union and the defunct Philadelphia Independence of Women's Professional Soccer. World Sports Show still runs as an online show, but was on local radio from 2011-2013 on WiFi 1460 AM.
Charlie also has experience behind the camera. John DiCrisio and himself called games for the now defunct Pennsylvania Roar of the Major Indoor Soccer League. Charlie was the play-by-play guy, so he's a natural fit to take on the role for Sky Blue FC. In talking to him, he cites two big names as inspirations, JP Dellacamera and Al Michaels. Al Michaels of course is a classic play-by-play guy who has been one of the biggest names over the last thirty years. JP Dellacamera is a little less well known unless you follow soccer, but he is an established name.
Charlie's biggest asset to Sky Blue broadcasts is that he is knowledgeable about the league. Since the National Women's Soccer League started up in 2013, he has split his time driving to Sky Blue FC and Washington Spirit games, with at least an hour and a half driving each way to both teams home fields, and he chose Sky Blue FC as it was closer.
Charlie is, most importantly, someone who understands the game and has the right attitude. I asked him about the unfortunate stereotype that women's sports in general has picked up, and he had this to say.
Yea, I think that I would have to say that there are the stereotypes. There are people that kind of have it in the back of their head, "Hey, this is a women's sport, maybe it will be different." Honestly, when I watch the game, I don't look at the field to see men or women, I just see these are amazing athletes.
I am fortunate enough to train both men and women's teams. I have trained men's and women's teams for the last 13 years coaching wise, and I have never noticed a difference of things that my female athletes couldn't do that my male athletes could do.
That's why I think I like soccer so much. Growing up and playing in high school, we didn't have a girls program at all until Senior year. So, there were girls that that would try out for the Varsity team and actually make it and you know, start sometimes and play key roles, and to us, it was never an issue.
Charlie is also excited about this year's Women's World Cup, which will be held in Canada, for a variety of reasons. Most obviously, the games being available in prime time will bring attention to the big name players and the league. But it will also provide an opportunity for some of the lesser known names in NWSL.
The league is taking a two week break around the beginning of the tournament, the same kind of break that MLS takes every summer. For a semi-established league like MLS, they can afford that, but this will be a first for the NWSL as this is only their third year in existence. Charlie doesn't see that as a negative though, he sees it as a big moment for the league.
It might give an opportunity to some of the amateur players in NWSL to kind of show their stuff and show that, maybe they should be on a full roster. I think that might open the door up for expansion, that, we have enough good players to expand to a 10th-11th team in the league because of the quality of play. So, I look at it as an opportunity for players that don't get a lot of play time to shine, so I'm looking forward to that part of the season.
The NWSL is entering it's third season, and looking to do something no other professional women's league has done in the US: make it to a fourth. Sky Blue FC is looking to keep going and to keep bringing quality soccer to the New Jersey area. US Soccer (and Canada/Mexico) is looking to grow the women's game domestically. All three have a champion in Charlie Flowe, and personally, I can't wait to watch his first broadcast. It will be one heck of a show with someone who has his passion for the game.