SANFORD, Fla. — New Orlando Pride coach Marc Skinner brings a new vibe to training sessions.
That’s not a good thing or a bad thing when compared to last season, said veteran midfielder Ali Krieger. The Pride parted ways with coach Tom Sermanni after a disappointing 2018 and named Skinner the team’s new head coach in January.
“It’s not better, it’s not worse,” Krieger said. “It’s just different. A certain mentality that, I think, hasn’t been instilled before that we’re excited about. It’s a breath of fresh air, you could say, just with the new mentality and the new vision and direction we’re going to go in, obviously with every coach it’s different.
“We’re just really excited to start fresh. Everyone’s kind of on the same playing field, which is good and that motivates every single player here. That’s what’s probably the most exciting for us.”
Other players have noticed the new vibe in preseason training, which opened Monday.
“We’re just very excited to learn from [Skinner] because I know he has a lot to teach us,” said defender Toni Pressley.
Skinner said he’s looking to bring a lot of energy to the Pride’s training sessions. If he brings energy, then there’s no excuse for the team to lag behind him.
“I go to an individual place in my head where it’s just expectations,” Skinner said. “I’ve kind of set my bar this high in my own personal mentality. It’s pretty easy to get to that place, for me.”
It goes back to Skinner’s message of forming good habits.
“We’ve got work to do,” he said. “If you noticed, in the middle of the session, it wasn’t just a drinks break. It was a mental break. Have a mental break. Think about what you’re doing and work through what you’re doing, rather than just playing. We’re going to create habits. That’s our job over preseason: create good habits.”
Krieger said the energy in training was “inspiring.”
“He’s super-passionate,” Krieger said. “You can tell he’s so ambitious. He loves the game. He loves to teach the game. You can tell that by just our first session. We need that and I love it. I’m really happy and I know the girls are really happy. We’re just soaking it all up.”
Versatile Orlando Pride player Kristen Edmonds said she had coffee with Skinner when Skinner was in Orlando for a week after being named the team’s new head coach in December.
“Immediately, he got me so excited get started,” she said. “I was like, ‘I wish preseason was starting tomorrow.’ I feel like he brings a fresh look for the game and I’m excited to be in the system that he wants us to play in and how he wants us to play. I think it’s going to be, like I said, something fresh for the league and I just can’t wait to see how it works.”
She added the offseason “feels like forever.” The Pride played their last match on Sept. 8, 2018, and won’t begin regular season play until April 14 against the Portland Thorns.
“I think Marc is coming in and trying to get us to get into a mentality very early,” Edmonds said. “Even though [Monday was] Day 1, he’s like, ‘Let’s get to work.’ Yesterday was awesome. I feel like I learned so much in an hour and a half. It’s just, like, little tweaks that all of us can use to improve all of our games.”