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Denise Reddy named new Sky Blue FC head coach

The New Jersey native makes the move back to her home state after two seasons with the Spirit.

Washington Spirit assistant coach Denise Reddy has been named the new head coach of Sky Blue FC. (photo courtesy Sky Blue FC)

Sky Blue FC announced Dennis Reddy has been named head coach for the 2018 season during a media conference call on Wednesday.

“Words cannot describe how excited and honored I am to be the Head Coach of Sky Blue FC,” Reddy said in the team’s official statement. “This is where my coaching career started, and it feels great to be back in Jersey and part of such a professional organization. I am looking forward to starting this journey with such top-class players and cannot wait to get on the pitch.”

Reddy, a New Jersey native and Rutgers alumnae, has ties to Sky Blue, starting out her coaching career with the USL W-League side Jersey Sky Blue in 2007. She then served as an assistant coach for the Chicago Red Stars from 2008 to 2010 before heading overseas to coach Linköpings FC in Sweden, which she led to the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals in 2011. She then served as a head coach with B93/HIK/Skjold in Denmark from 2012-2014, and then Vittsjö GIK in Sweden.

Before beginning her coaching career, the former center back was a two-year captain and All-American at Rutgers. She also played professionally overseas for 11 years in Sweden with Umeå and Malmö FF (1995-2005), captaining the latter to the 2004 Champions League semifinals towards the end of her time with the team.

Most recently she has been serving as an assistant coach at the Washington Spirit for the past two seasons under former Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra.

“We are thrilled that Denise has agreed to join our organization,” said Steven Temares, Sky Blue FC co-owner. “Her diverse experience, passion and approach to the game are a wonderful fit. We strongly believe Denise is the right person to provide our players with the development, preparation and leadership they deserve, and we look forward to the upcoming season.”

With Laura Harvey’s recent departure from the Seattle Reign, Reddy is currently the only female head coach in the league. However, both FC Kansas City and the Houston Dash still have coaching vacancies that have yet to be filled.

The head coaching position became vacant on August 16 when Christy Holly resigned midway through the 2017 season. Holly was named head coach the day before the 2016 NWSL College Draft and turned a team tapped to finish at the bottom of the table into a legitimate playoff contender for much of the season before falling to a seventh place finish.

In his first season with the team, Holly was lauded for his leadership and coaching, crediting him with creating a new team culture and family dynamic within the team that helped lead to the team’s surprising success. However, a shift seemed to occur during the 2017 season, and Holly walked following a four-game winless stretch that ended with a disastrous 5-0 loss on the road in Orlando.

No interim coach was named to replace Holly, with the team’s four assistant coaches—David Hodgson, Paul Greig, Jill Loyden and Maria Dorris—collaboratively leading the team for the remainder of the season.

Reddy’s first task as head coach of Sky Blue will be the 2018 NWSL College Draft, which will take place on Thursday, January 18 in Philadelphia.