From the moment Real Salt Lake landed a National Women’s Soccer League Team, Owner Dell Loy Hansen and General Manager Craig Waibel had one name in mind to command the team through its inaugural season in 2018. On Monday, RSL announced that they landed their target when Laura Harvey was named the new head coach for the NWSL team.
On November 7, Harvey resigned from Seattle Reign FC, where she spent five years at the helm . From the moment discussions of bringing NWSL to Utah started, Waibel and Hansen began recruiting Harvey.
“The timeline is quite interesting because we read the same articles as everybody else did. We really came into this discussion a week after she stepped down in Seattle. In sports, and just in life in general, timing is everything, and had we come in a week earlier, this wouldn’t be happening,” Waibel said.
“I’m really excited for this opportunity. When I resigned from the Reign back at the beginning of this month, I wasn’t sure this was the place I would end up. I’m really excited for this opportunity. It’s super exciting not just for me, but for women’s soccer in the United States. Everything we’re trying to do is going to be world class, and I’m just looking forward to getting going,” Harvey said.
In only 15 years as a coach, Harvey has accomplished as much as some coaches do in an entire career. While with Arsenal LFC, Harvey was named the 2011 FAWSL Coach of the Year, and guided her team to three consecutive league titles, two Continental Cups, and one FA Women’s Cup. During her five years in Seattle, Harvey led her team to clinch two NWSL Shields, was twice named the NWSL Coach of the Year, the FA Coach of the Year, and was a finalist for the FIFA World Coach of the Year.
“No one accomplishment stands out, this is a coach that makes sense to every single person. She’s intense, she fits everything about our organization in terms of relentless, tireless effort, in scouting opponents, preparing her own team, and then the way she approaches the game, the way she prepares her players is second to none,” Waibel said.
Because Harvey was named the head coach and general manager of the Reign for the NWSL’s inaugural season, she has already been through the process of building a successful women’s franchise . Because her original plans to relocate and coach internationally didn’t pan out, the opportunity to come to Salt Lake City enticed her.
“I’m a big advocate for the NWSL, so I got on the plane not just for myself, but to help and guide. Obviously we’re super excited about having a new franchise. Once I landed in Salt Lake, went to the facilities, and got to speak to the guys there, it was a difficult thing to turn my back on. I’m just excited about what this could be,” Harvey said.
However, Harvey’s qualities as a head coach weren’t the only deciding factors. Waibel explained how her passion, authenticity and professionalism also exemplify that of a role model for young women in Utah, and nationwide.
“She just goes about her business in a way that everyone around her understands: they’re going to have the ability to get better, she’s going to help them improve at whatever it is that they do. And that is something that all great coaches possess,” Waibel said.
Having full confidence in her ability to lead a top-tier women’s team, Waibel believes that Harvey can assemble the best combination of players and staff to bring championships to Utah.
“We will be heavily relying on her knowledge of the game as well as her assistance. There’s no ego here. The expectation is set from us. We expect to be successful, and success in sports is wins. So that’s the measuring stick we’ll strive for,” Waibel explained.
Harvey will be in Salt Lake City Thursday to speak with media after the unveiling of Utah’s NWSL team name on Wednesday.