Amanda Duffy is the President of the Louisville City FC. And yes, she is a woman and 36 years old, so let’s just get that out of the way. Let’s move on to discuss how she played soccer for over 20 years and was a formidable contender. And she’s smart; you don’t get this job because you can play the game well. You get her job because you have a business mind and an athlete’s sense of competition. She’s at the helm of a very popular and talented soccer team here in Louisville, with a rabid following. Look for great things to come out of this team and Amanda Duffy, our FACE of Louisville this week.
Looking back, could the 10-year-old you ever imagine that you would be running a soccer team as an adult?
When I was young, being a part of this sport was all I thought about … as an athlete, as a coach, an administrator and an executive … in every way possible. In the ’80s and early ’90s, jobs in soccer at this level didn’t exist, especially not for females. It was a constant daydream to work in soccer and one I let my imagination run wild with.
After you stopped playing when you were 26, what were the options for someone who wanted to stay in soccer?
In 2006, women’s professional soccer in the U.S. was in between leagues, and the USL W-League (United Soccer League Women’s League), a pro-am league, was once again the highest level of women’s soccer in the U.S. and Canada. I could’ve continued playing, but after returning home from Sweden I was ready take the next step in life. I had two options if I wanted to work in sports and soccer in particular: coaching or administration. I considered college coaching positions, a few different administrative positions within college athletics, and administrative positions at USL. I was fortunate to have good relationships with the leadership at USL, and the timing of my transition off the field synced well with the expansion of the league front office. I chose USL in early 2007, and that set me on the path to where I am today.
Are people you first meet more shocked that you are young or that you are a woman?
It’s probably an equal share of the two but I get more follow-up questions/comments that are gender-related than I do that are age-related when I tell people what I do.
Where do you envision this Louisville City FC team will be in two years? In five years? What are your plans personally as well?
The short-term focus for Louisville City FC is to continue putting a talented, competitive team on the field that will compete for a championship year in and year out, expanding our season ticket base as well as our corporate partnership relationships. We compete in a vibrant, growing league, a league that I expect will soon be approved with second division status, which positions it directly underneath Major League Soccer (MLS). The landscape in a few years could be such that all the top non-MLS teams are competing in the same league. That’s an exciting thought for our sport but also means the competition on and off the field will continue to get better. Concurrently, we need to address our stadium challenges and work as diligently and quickly as we can to bring resolution to a very important piece of our business and our future. Further out we will start building the framework to have a full development structure that integrates and aligns youth development with the pro team to allow players to learn the Louisville City system and style of play and better position them to move into the pro team as they progress. All the while we need to continue working to be an integral part of the fabric of Louisville as the city and the club continue to grow.
You are two years into this job. What has been your biggest success? Your biggest challenge?
The biggest success has been the support this community has shown. Our fans continue to rise to the occasion when it comes to attendance and engagement, and the city’s leadership couldn’t be more supportive. What you see and feel today is quite different than how it was before we played our first game. Then, it was more a sense of cautious optimism about every aspect from the level of soccer, how would we play soccer in a baseball stadium, what is USL, etc. The biggest challenge is — and will continue to be — our home venue until we are in our own soccer-specific stadium. The situation at Slugger Field isn’t efficient or appropriate for a professional soccer team that has the highest of aspirations, and it isn’t a financially viable long-term option for our business to survive.
You moved here without knowing a soul and then were placed in a very big job right away. Have you had time to settle into this city?
When I moved here I thought I was moving to the Midwest, but I learned quickly Louisville is a Southern city that has a lot of similarities to the feel of my hometown in eastern North Carolina. I’m very comfortable here and have been fortunate to attend and partake in many of the events and activities that are unique to this city. I’ve enjoyed every bit of my experience here so far.
Give us a peek at your agenda. What’s a typical day or week like for you?
Quite truly I don’t think there is a typical day as we are just in the second year of a start-up business. My day could range from meetings with city government and leadership, meetings with ownership, speaking engagements, working with staff on departmental strategies, walking the training grounds, liaising with USL on league initiatives, other administrative tasks, and really just making sure we are continuing to take positive steps as an organization. We’ve accomplished a notable amount but still have a lot of growth ahead.
What advice do you treasure?
1) There is no substitute for hard work, and 2) Trust my instincts.
Fill in the blank. You’ll never see me without my ________.
Where can we find you hanging out around town?
What’s your favorite thing to do in Louisville?
Try new restaurants.
Tell us some of your favorite local restaurants.
What’s on your personal reading list right now?
Lightning Round! Give us your:
Candy or junk food splurge: Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Phish Food
Guilty pleasure song: “What’s Love Got To Do With It” by Tina Turner
Tearjerker movie pick: Gladiator is an all-time favorite
Standby nail polish color: If a salon doesn’t do it, they don’t get done
Favorite cocktail: Prefer a glass of white wine
Cartoon alter-ego: Velma Dinkley of “Scooby Doo”
What are three of your favorite things right now aside from faith, family and friends?
All things LouCity, good food and quality relaxation time.
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