A woman has coached a boys' high school soccer team to win the state championship for the first time in the 44-year history of the Florida High School Athletic Association.
Pamela McDonald coached the Doral Academy’s Firebirds to a 2-1 victory over Niceville on Saturday night in the 6A final in DeLand, the Miami Herald reported.
McDonald, who has led the team for 13 years, said there have been times when people haven't recognized her role because she's a woman.
“The most adversity I got was actually from other coaches and referees,” McDonald said. “They’d pass by me sometimes before games not thinking I was the head coach.”
McDonald, 47, graduated from St. Ambrose High in Glasgow, Scotland and played on the Scottish national team before attending Miami's Barry University on scholarship.
“She’s been my coach since I was in middle school, in seventh grade, and we feel great for her,” said Doral junior forward Manuel Calvo, who scored the winning goal. “That’s amazing that she’s the first. It was all for her. She’s so dedicated and does so much for us.”
As McDonald celebrated with her players, Doral’s principal Carlos Ferralls shouted nearby: “Best coach in the nation, right there!”
She has led the school to four district titles and two state appearances as coach of the boys after coaching the girls' team for four years, the Herald reported.
“You know how it is, I built a reputation over time and then people started knowing that I knew my stuff," she told the newspaper. “You build that respect and these guys, I work them as hard as any coach they’ve ever played for so you get the respect of your players.”