Tampa Bay's new women’s soccer team did not look far to find the head coach it wanted.
The yet-to-be-named Tampa Bay franchise in the USL Super League has hired longtime University of South Florida women’s coach Denise Schilte-Brown as its first coach. Schilte-Brown will join the franchise in November 2023, after completing her 16th season as head coach of USF.
During that time, Schilte-Brown has led USF to six American Athletic Conference championships, including five straight seasons with a championship from 2017-2021, and eight NCAA Tournament appearances.
“We are extremely pleased Denise has decided to join our club. She is leaving behind an incredible legacy at USF, and we look forward to watching her build and shape our team from its beginnings,” the franchise’s co-owner Darryl Shaw says in a press statement.
The Tampa team also filled another key leadership team, hiring Sarasota-based attorney and entrepreneur Christina Unkel as its first club president. Unkel is a former NCAA soccer player and a former FIFA referee. She has worked as a studio analyst for FOX Sports, ESPN, CBS and Apple TV, according to the Los Angeles Times
“I could not be more excited for this endeavor,” Unkel says in a press release. “The women’s game is at an inflection point where it is not only the fans looking for more experiences, but also players, broadcasters, and advertisers. The marketplace is fully ready to embrace women’s professional soccer and I am humbled to be part of its inauguration into Tampa Bay.”
Shaw, who has multiple redevelopment projects in the works in the Ybor City area, Bern’s Steak House co-owner David Laxer and Jeff Fox, the former chief information officer of BluePearl Pet Hospital, are the owners of the Tampa team. They are also childhood friends.
The USL Super League’s inaugural season is scheduled to begin in August 2024, with the Tampa franchise joining 10 to 12 other teams.
For more information, go to Super League Tampa Bay.
For prior coverage, go to Women's professional soccer coming to Tampa.
Enjoy this story? Sign up
for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.