RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Eight months ago the North Carolina Courage franchise was in limbo. Head coach Paul Riley was “terminated” by the National Women’s Soccer League for alleged serious allegations of misconduct.
Courage assistant coach Sean Nahas was named to replace Riley.
“My plan was not to take the interim job,” said Nahas.
That may surprise some people. Nahas said at the time of the controversy there was just too much going on and that’s why he was apprehensive about taking the reigns of a team in turmoil. But a phone conversation with team captain Abby Erceg changed his mind.
The interim coach tag was soon dropped and Nahas was named head coach.
“It’s not my team, I’ve tried to make it their team and let them lead and give them conversation, give them the open door and let them have feedback and say because they’re the one’s playing,” Nahas explained.
“I hope they welcome that and embrace that and yeah, I’m indebted to her (Abby Erceg) and many others, but her conversation changed a big path for me.”
Keeping this ultra-successful team together, though, was another challenge. Courage stars Lynn Williams, Sam Mewis and Jessica McDonald decided to move on. But not Erceg.
“This is my club, I’ve been here since we’ve started,” said Erceg. “I think throughout your career there are moments when it’s going to get tough and things get hard and it doesn’t always go your way but it doesn’t mean you need to leave.”
“I like the challenge of it getting hard and how can I pick the club up and how can we bring the group back together. I was never going to leave it was never a question of whether or not I was leaving but how long I was going to stay for.”
It now appears Erceg and her head coach will both be around for awhile.