|Role:||Head Coach University of Washington and for the US Women’s Deaf national Team|
Amy (Allman) Griffin grew up playing soccer whenever, and with whomever she could as a child, “Not many people played soccer in Federal Way and Decatur didn’t have a girls team (when I was there) so I played on a club team. If I wasn’t with the club team, I just hit balls against a wall or juggled by myself because no one wanted to play.” recalls Griffin for goalWA.
Griffin went on to play at the University of Central Florida (UCF) with fellow Washington-native, Michelle Akers. Amy was a three time letter winner for UCF in soccer (1984-1987). In her final season, she helped UCF reach the Final Four. Amy was named the Adidas Goalkeeper of the Year in her final season.
Amy joined Akers on the National Team in 1987, two years after the team’s inception. On July 5, 1987, she became the second American keeper to earn her first shutout in her first cap. Four years later, Griffin was a member of the US Team that would compete and ultimately win the first ever Women’s World Cup, originally called the FIFA Women’s Championship M&M’s Cup. The 1991 team was the first American team to advance to a World Championship final. For Amy, the 1991 experience was bittersweet, “We’ve just been recognized as the best in the world, but women’s soccer is not in the Olympic Games,” stated Amy for The Seattle Times in December of 1991. “We don’t even know what the next scheduled event is. We went and proved ourselves. Now what? It’s kind of an empty feeling.” According to US Soccer, the Women’s National Team (WNT) played two games in 1992, losing both. However, Griffin had already moved on. Griffin played from 1987 to 1991, racking up 23 starts in 24 appearances. Amy earned 12 wins and 10 shutouts for the WNT. By the time she left the team, players had just recently been awarded stipends of $1,000 per month. Salaries and health insurance were still a thing of the future.
Griffin stayed local to UCF, getting her coaching start at Lyman High School. Griffin then made history as one of the first women to receive United States Soccer Federation (USSF) level “A’ coaching license. She soon began coaching at the college level as an assistant at her alma mater, UCF. Amy then moved on to coach at Santa Clara, San Diego State University and New Mexico, where she started the Women’s Soccer program.
In 1996, Amy joined the coaching staff at the University of Washington, where she remains to this day. The Huskies coach has mentored many of Washington’s career leading keepers, including 2015 All-America Megan Kufeld and WNT keeper Hope Solo. Kufeld recorded a .98 career goals against average, the best all-time for the program. Kufeld also recorded the two highest single-season save totals all-time in 2013 (88) and 2014 (87). Those records stand as the sixth- and seventh career-best, respectively. During the 2000 season, Solo and her defensive line earned eight matches decided by one goal, including four shutouts. Washington went on to win the PAC-10 conference that year. Since 1995, Washington has posted 159 shutouts.
Griffin also coaches the USA Women’s U-20 team. Over her coaching career, she has coached the likes of Sarah Killion, Samantha Mewis and Maya Hayes, all who compete in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). Killion and Hayes, along with Mewis, were on Coach Griffin’s 2012 U-20 team that won the World Cup in Japan. Two of Griffin’s former players, Solo and Mewis are preparing for the 2016 Olympic games.
Keeping it Simple
Last year, Griffin accepted a job as the Head Coach of the US Women’s Deaf National Team, despite 2015 being the year for her to say, “no”. However, this opportunity was too good to pass up. Having only 8 days all year to train with her players, Griffin embraced the challenge of her volunteer role and led the Deaf Women’s National Team (DWNT) to its third straight World Cup title.
One might ask, how did Griffin and old National Team roommate, Joy Fawcett, coach and train a team of women with varying degrees of experience and communication styles to a title? Put simply, “We let them help us,” said Griffin in a phone interview. “My first camp was a debacle (laughs) … because I didn’t communicate with the players in an efficient manner.” All of Griffin’s players this summer are completely deaf without some form of hearing implants. Although some players use implants in everyday life, none of the players are permitted to use hearing devices during games. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that not all players know how to sign or lipread. Griffin had to learn to observe her players, as opposed to listen for understanding and progress, as she would usually do.
“I didn’t realize how much sound played a role in my life,” describes Griffin. She needed to adjust to a new “day-of-game cadence” in her new coaching role. “There really were solvable problems, on most of the teams that I have coached, with a simple shout.” Without being able to rely on quick fixes through speaking or shouting, Griffin focused on sticking to the game plan and making sure her players were reading the game before building a play. Griffin plans to use this, and the idea of keeping it simple, when coaching at all levels. She wants to remain, “clear and concise, and let the game tell the story, as opposed to the coach telling the story, (that) is the way to go … (this experience) has helped me get back to what’s important.”
However, it was not the communication that was the most frustrating aspect of her new coaching gig, it was something much more familiar, the lack of funding and support. The DWNT was responsible for raising $5,000 per player to compete in the Deaf World Cup in Italy this summer. For Griffin, the lack of support and only 8 days together as a team since 2013 was, “the biggest challenge and the biggest frustration.” The USSF is not involved with the team, players had to come together to find ways to raise the money.
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