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Q&A with new Sky Blue FC head coach, Christy Holly

On January 13, 2016, Sky Blue FC officially announced Christy Holly as their head coach for the upcoming 2016 NWSL season.

We had the opportunity to speak with Coach Holly about the 2016 Draft and the approach he looks to have as preseason approaches.


Brittany Cameron (1) and Christy Holly (right). (Photo courtesy of Sky Blue FC)

Brittany Cameron (1) and Christy Holly (right). (Photo courtesy of Sky Blue FC)



DoubleGSports: You spent the past three seasons with Sky Blue as an assistant, how do you think the experiences of the previous seasons will help you step into the head coaching position and help you succeed?

Christy Holly: There are so many different things I’ve picked up during my time with Sky Blue. I’ve been very fortunate to work for and beside some of the most respected coaches like Jim Gabarra who was absolutely fantastic as a mentor, and Takayoshi Ishihara who is in from Japan. I try to encompass all of the different approaches they have, and incorporate those approaches with the approach I have to soccer. I also want to use the experiences of what I’ve seen to help make a better all-around environment and better experience for players. This will allow us to put in our best performances week in and week out.

DGS: It was officially announced that you were the head coach of Sky Blue a few days before the draft. What was your goal going into the draft? Did you get all of the players you wanted?

CH: There was a lot of work being done behind the scenes. Preparation for the draft started in October because I wanted to make sure our homework was done regardless of who the head coach was going to be and ensure that we put ourselves in the best possible position.

The night before the draft we sat down and made plans “A”, “B”, and “C.” Talking after the draft, we got the players we wanted. We were pleasantly surprised each player was still available in each round, but if they weren’t available we would’ve went elsewhere. Nevertheless, we are delighted with each player that we drafted.

DGS: How difficult was the decision to trade Nadia Nadim to Portland?

CH: It wasn’t straightforward just for the second pick in the draft. There were a lot of decisions and many factors that influenced that decision. It was a difficult decision to finalize the trade, but it certainly wasn’t for just the number two draft pick. The big approach we have going into 2016 season and moving forward is having players at Sky Blue that we want here and that want to be here to represent the club and put on the jersey and represent the people of New Jersey. That was a big part of our decision making.

DGS: Four rookies were drafted in the 2016 NWSL Draft, can you briefly describe what each player brings to the team?

CH: Raquel Rodriguez is an absolutely fantastic player. With her technical ability she can play anywhere within the midfield, and could potentially play up top. The biggest thing she brings is her leadership and her proven ability on the international stage. There are very few players coming out of college who have had the experiences she’s had.

Leah Galton is a very exciting player for us. She’s left footed and when she gets the ball she looks, she’s direct, she’s strong, and she’s a very good finisher at the eighteen. She can finish with her right, left, and in the air which is a big draw for us and she is very versatile.

Erica Skroski is a Jersey girl who showed her strengths this season. She was Big East Defender of the Year. Very technically confident, very tough competitor, and doesn’t settle for second best which is a huge attraction to us. I’m very excited to see what she can do for use in the early stages of the season. I truly feel like she can push into our midfield and impact there. With Rutgers she played central defense and I think she can do a great job in the midfield. And I’m hoping she comes back from the US U-23 camp with fantastic experiences.

Caroline Casey was All-America First Team this season. She’s a little bit of a late developer in the last few years if you look at her performances, and she’s just continued to improve week in and week out. I think as a goalkeeper she’s gotten better every week. A lot of that is because of the coaching she’s been able to receive the last two years and I’m looking forward to getting her in here and competing for that number one spot. We’re looking to hire an exceptional goal coach that will really push her up.

The big thing is that we are very picky about the type of people we bring in. Not only can they make positive impacts but they’re also ones that will really connect with fans, have great personalities both on and off the field and that’s something exciting for us.

The chemistry and cohesion within the group is something that I place a lot of value on and I want to have as many energizers as I can within the group and people that create a really positive training environment and game environment. There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes at Sky Blue and hopefully we can show the fans that from the first game of the season.

DGS: As you approach preseason how are you preparing and what are the objectives of training camp?

CH: Get the girls to match fitness and prepare accordingly for the upcoming season to ensure that we start the season bright. The last few years, and specifically last year, we did fantastic during the first game of the season and got a great result away in Kansas, but unfortunately we lost a little bit of momentum the next couple of games. The aim this season is to improve upon that but also match what we did at the end of the last season, which is go on a great run.

Beyond that we’re looking to have four or five friendly games to take a look at starting lineups and formations as we get ready for the season.

DGS: You mentioned the past two seasons Sky Blue missed the playoffs, how does this impact the team? Does it ignite a fire and give the players more motivation?

CH: Absolutely. Every player we have is driven to succeed and that exact reason is why they’re able to play at a professional level. They’ve made big commitments to get to this point in their career. As a coach I know I am extremely fortunate to be with them and I get to help channel that towards not only to a successful season, but go and win the championship. Getting into the playoffs is the absolute minimum, and beyond that we’re looking to win the title. We missed out last season and speaking with players during the offseason and speaking with players at the end of last season; there’s a real drive and a real motivation because they know they can do it. Jim did a fantastic job the past few years, so hopefully we can build on that. We’re excited to make sure that fans come to each game and leave with a really good taste and see that they’ve got a team that’s going to be real contenders.

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