Earlier this week the Elite Clubs National League released their list of the 14 new girls clubs that have been invited to join the fast-growing league. Assuming all 14 accept, the total count of clubs would presumably settle at 66 the foreseeable future. Over ninety clubs applied for entry this year, but the list was whittled down by executive committee, then voted on in the league's "one club, one vote" format.
Prior to the big news, ECNL executives were out in full force at last month's NSCAA Convention in Baltimore. They held a standing-room-only session in one of the convention center's larger meeting rooms on the state of, and future of, both the league and women's soccer development in general.
The league's first full-time hire, commissioner Sarah Kate Noftsinger, was also announced just before the convention and introduced as part of the session.
Christian Lavers, ECNL President
We asked league president Christian Lavers about the overall progress and short-term future of the league, which, believe it or not, is not even two full years into its competitive life.
Douglas Bracken, ECNL Vice President
Next, we asked Vice President Doug Bracken, who also coaches in the league, if he's seeing any benefits in player development first hand since the league was formed. We also asked about the decision to hire Noftsinger, to which he said "our biggest milestone to date is getting her [Noftsinger] on board. She'll make a big difference."
Sarah Kate Noftsinger, ECNL Commissioner
With that glowing endorsement from Bracken still ringing in our ears, we next spoke with Noftsinger. We asked for her opinion on U.S. Soccer's recent hiring of April Heinrichs and Jill Ellis to full-time positions, and how she hopes to work with the federation to improve the women's game. Then we closed by simply asking for some quick advice she may have for aspiring ECNL players.