Kristi Huizenga, Using Competition to Build a Championship Program

No matter how difficult things have been in the past, there’s always a way to turn it around. That’s something this week’s guest knows all too well. Kristi Huizenga is the head women’s soccer coach at the University of Vermont. When she came on board as the youngest coach to ever lead the team, she managed to take a group of underdogs and turn them into a competitive force to be reckoned with. This week, Huizenga talks about not getting caught up in immediate success and learning to make a commitment to sustainable and lasting change through competition.

One of the greatest challenges she sees players facing today is attention span. Many young athletes seem to want to start out on top and struggle with overcoming smaller mental challenges on the path to long-term success. Setting short-term goals, drilling individual skills, and introducing competition into every aspect of training has helped her guide her players to see the bigger picture and become a cohesive team primed to play their hardest each and every day.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Have patience and dedication to achieve long-term success
  • Set short-term goals to build toward a larger end goal
  • Develop mental fortitude and attention to detail
  • Importance of personal accountability both on and off the field
  • Increase drive through understanding what makes each player tick


“Not taking a risk is the biggest risk at all.” -Jake Thompson

“There’s things you can do to get that quick success, but at what cost?” -Kristi Huizenga

“I’m not doing my job as a coach if I’m not pushing No. 24 on the roster to get to No. 1, but also pushing No. 1 to evolve, too. That can be a really tricky balance.” -Kristi Huizenga

“When you’re competing at a high level, things are going to happen that are frustrating. Things are going to happen that are great. And how you react to and either celebrate or overcome whatever is going on on the field, everybody’s watching, whether it’s fans or young kids.” -Kristi Huizenga

“The mental aspect of the game is much greater than anyone can anticipate.” -Kristi Huizenga


Follow the University of Vermont women’s soccer team on Twitter and Instagram @uvmwsoccer and follow Kristi Huizenga on Twitter @kristilefebvre and on Instagram @khuizenga4


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Episode 71