Academics first for new women’s soccer head coach
A new head coach for the women’s soccer team with a commitment to student athletes’ success will offer the team a fresh face after 33 years.
SF State announced Tracy Hamm as the new women’s soccer head coach over the winter break following the retirement of former head coach Jack Hyde. Hyde coached the team since its beginning in 1982. Hamm comes to SF State from Santa Rosa Junior College where she coached for three years and ended with a 43-16-5 overall record.
Hamm is the third new coach hired under the leadership of SF State’s Athletic Director Charles Guthrie, who was appointed in July. The process of selecting the right candidate for the coaching position was extensive, Guthrie said. He said with the help of his committee and the input from student athletes, he knew he would find the perfect person.
“We had over 200 applicants,” Guthrie said. “We brought four candidates to the campus, and Tracy stood out.”
During her time at SRJC, Hamm’s overall record and the relationships she built with the players were a factor that made her stand out from other candidates.
Hamm took the SRJC’s Bear Cubs to the 2012 Big 8 Conference and made multiple playoff appearances. Even with her success at SRJC, Hamm said helping the women succeed off the field brought her the most joy.
“I think coaching at a junior college really just highlights how grateful you should be for any opportunity,” Hamm said. “The soccer part is just, in my eyes, a smaller part of it. It’s really about helping them learn self empowerment and confidence.”
Hamm received a soccer scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley after high school. During her time as a Bear, she was the team captain for the soccer team and coached for youth soccer camps in the summer while balancing school. After graduating from Cal, Hamm was drafted into the Women’s Professional Soccer League and played for the Atlanta Beats for a year before calling it quits due to injuries.
“It was fun traveling and playing with the best players in the world,” Hamm said. “There’s just not a lot of money in it, there’s not a lot of stability in it. You’re just taking a gamble, but that’s the thing, no one is there for money. It’s really just because you love the sport and you want to play.”
Besides her tremendous success on the field, Hamm’s ability to motivate student athletes off the field and push them to succeed academically is what set her apart from the other 200 applicants. In her second year at SRJC, Hamm had 11 of 13 sophomores on the team transfer to a four-year university to play soccer and advance in their academics.
“I really wanted to lead women and just really help them achieve what they wanted to do,” Hamm said. “A lot of them didn’t have an intention to go to a four-year school after they were done playing. Almost all of them changed their mind and they’re all getting educations paid for. That was really exciting for me.”
SF State encourages student athletes to focus on being students first and being athletes second, Guthrie said. Guthrie said he knew Hamm would be the perfect candidate to help emphasize academic success within the Gator athletics department because of her motivation and success as an Academic All-American during her time in Cal.
“She was an Academic All-American and the academic component is very important to what we do here,” Guthrie said. “We want student athletes that participate to know, student first then athlete second.”
The Gators have come close to advancing into the playoffs multiple times but are crushed at the end of the season with back-to-back losses. The team ended last season with a 7-9-2 overall record and had a 2-8-1 record against California Collegiate Athletics Association opponents. Gators’ forward Alex Palomino believes Hamm will help change the team’s playoff opportunities and really help the team become better.
“She’s familiar to the league, she’s young and she has a positive attitude,” Palomino said. “I’m excited, it’s going to be a new year and new change. We’re just looking forward to it.”
Now as the second head coach in the 33 years of women’s soccer at SF State, Hamm hopes her experiences and knowledge can help the Gators reach the NCAA Division II National Championship. But most importantly, she wants the Gators to do well in all aspects off the field.
“My goal is to in the first few months change the mentality to a competitive environment and really establish a winning mentality,” Hamm said. “I want to give them confidence and realign their commitment and dedication of being a Gator.”