Even as a player, Frey had shown instincts of a coach. It’s why she thrived in her role as a Head Coach with the Long Island Rough Riders Premier Program for over 12 years.
During a 2007 game, members of the Long Island Rough Riders women’s team trudged off the field toward the locker room following a disappointing first half against rival Boston at Michael J. Tully Park. Rough Riders coach John Fitzgerald stopped goalkeeper Meghan Frey just before she joined her teammates. Fitzgerald whispered in her ear that the team was struggling and play needed to improve in the second half.
As Fitzgerald waited outside, Frey went into the locker room and gave a speech to motivate her teammates in an effort to turn the Rough Riders’ fortunes around. Sure enough, play improved and Long Island went on to win the match.
“I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Meghan work with young players as a coach,” said Fitzgerald, currently associate head men’s soccer coach at United States Merchant Marine Academy. “She carries herself in a manner that, as a parent, I’d be happy to have my children play for her. And she shares her experiences and knowledge in a way that players can relate. Meghan is a fantastic role model, and can justifiably be demanding of her players because she has walked the walk.”
Frey’s soccer knowledge can be attributed to a lengthy and successful playing career. She was a two-time All-American goalkeeper for Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., before beginning her professional career. Frey joined the Boston Renegades in 2002, where she won the W-League National Championship just three months after completing her collegiate career. Frey played for the New York Power (WUSA) in 2003 before joining Bristol City Women’s Football Club from 2004-05. She played for the Long Island Lady Riders (W-League) from 2004-05 and stayed with the team — which became the Rough Riders in 2007 — from 2007-09.
Frey’s coaching resume is as extensive as her playing career. She served as an Assistant Coach at Dowling College (2006-08), St. John’s University (2008-09), and the Rough Riders W-League team (2009-11). She was also a Head Coach in the Rough Riders Youth Program from 2004-16, where she played in an integral role in growing the club. The culmination of Frey’s time with the program came in 2015 when her Girls U-14 team clinched the Super-Y League National Championship at IMG Academy.
“Meghan is a tremendous asset to the Rough Riders franchise,” said Peter Zaratin, Long Island Rough Riders president. “She develops and guides players to success on and off the field while passing on her passion for the game to the players that are fortunate enough to be coached by her.”
Frey’s goal as coach is to develop individual players within a team environment both on and off the field. More recently she has incorporated the psychosocial and mental components of the sport into her coaching to complement the physical, tactical, and technical aspects of soccer she has learned through her experience and continued coaching education. The model has paid dividends on the field as her Super-Y League teams qualified for the national tournament almost every year.
“I don’t think you can stress any one thing with young players as the game has so many different components to it,” said Frey, who now serves as an Executive Director for Globall Sports Centers. “I have learned over time that the foundation of developing and achieving begins with having an interest, enthusiasm, and intrinsic motivation. With any team or player, regardless of age, it is important that they enjoy the sport and enjoy playing the game.”
Stephanie Sparkowski played for Frey on the 2015 National Championship team and recently received a call-up to the U-14 Girls U.S. Women’s National Camp, “She was my coach ever since I started out at Rough Riders and she’s been with me ever since,” Sparkowski stated about her former trainer. “She always pushed me to be better and she taught me so many key points throughout my journey. She really helped me become the goalkeeper I am today.”
Gracie Heil, one of Frey’s current players, is happy to have Frey as her coach. “She helps us increase our skills as a player, but also helps us to become better people off the field,” Heil said. “Her balance of preaching ball skills while also stressing the mental aspects of the game is what makes her so great.”
Staff Writer Michael LoRé