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The El Paso Locomotive are setting the standard for the future of the USL in more ways than one

EL PASO, Texas -- For the past several years, we've seen a rise in women coaches in male-dominated sports, but there are still major strides to be taken to reach gender equity.

The El Paso Locomotive are doing their part to pave the way - assistant coach and video analyst Marina Schachowskoj is the only female assistant coach across the USL Championship.

The first female assistant coach in the league was Carrie Taylor at San Diego Loyal SC in 2020, but right Marina is the only one.

"I guess it's just, why not?" Marina said. "This is how it should be, and it is nice that it's being talked about for other women and girls that are watching because we want to say, hey, we can do this, this is a possibility."

Marina started playing soccer at five years old with her twin brother and was always surrounded by boys. It wasn't until she was playing in college that she realized she wanted to coach, and the idea of coaching in a men's sport didn't seem out of reach, mainly because of her mother.

"In her own profession she was always pushing barriers and being that one strong female role in my life," Marina said. "I take a lot after my mother in that way." 

That's not to say Marina hasn't faced her challenges in getting a crack at the top level.

"When you have a conversation about potentially getting a job you're immediately looked at," Marina said. "Well, you're a female, you're a woman, you're trying to get into the men's game. It's a very foreign conversation." 

Locomotive Head Coach John Hutchinson told ABC-7 he never questioned if Marina was the right choice.

"The elephant in the room is that she is a female in a man's sport," Hutchinson said. "You don't see too many, and that has never bothered me, it's not something. As long as you do your work and it's at a high quality, and she's done wonderful and added a lot to this staff and the tricky part for us is trying to keep her." 

Hutchinson told ABC-7 the quality of Marina analysis and the way she uses video to teach players about the team's principles and style of play have been critical to the club's success this season.

The Locomotive are currently ten games in a row unbeaten, the most in the league, and they're sitting in fifth spot in the Western Conference standings.

Hutchinson credits video analysis as a tool he wouldn't want to coach without, and yet the Locos are the only team in the entire league that have a full-time video analyst.

"I think it's definitely a tool that needs to be used across the league," Marina said. "It's to help you and help your staff understand your opposition and what you're up against and use a tactical plan to build your training sessions to be successful." 

By utilizing Marina's skills as a video analyst and assistant coach the El Paso Locomotive are doing two things nobody else in the league is and together they are setting the standard for the future of the USL Championship.

"I just want the best people in the environment," Hutchinson said. "I expect a few more to come through these doors in the next couple of years.

Other than Marina at the Locomotive, the USL told ABC-7 that four other teams out of 26 have women in positions.

At Charleston Battery: Hanna Gardner is the Head of Sports Performance at Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC; Kristen Washburn is an Assistant General Manager; Tiffany Ebert James is an Assistant General Manager at Detroit City FC, and Lisa Bonta Sumii is a Mental Health & Sport Performance Coach for Oakland Roots SC.

"I believe women have a lot of growth in the men's game because they have a lot to deliver and a lot for us men to learn off them," Hutchinson said.

"For me, football is football; the ball always rolls the same way," Marina said. "I just want to be the best at what I do."

The El Paso Locomotive are hosting an event encouraging women to support other women on Thursday, July 21st and Marina will be one of three panelists.

Article Topic Follows: Sports

Rachel Phillips

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