Jen Gillespie leads all-female coaching staff

Omaha Central’s girls’ soccer program will have the first all-female coaching staff in program history, led by new head coach Jen Gillespie, and is one of two schools in the state of Nebraska to have a coaching staff consisting of all women.  

Previously an assistant on the girls’ team for the last three seasons, Gillespie is walking into this season striving to make Central’s girls soccer team a positive and successful program and hoping to build a  culture where girls want to come play for the Eagles.  

“I want to change the overall perspective of how people and other high schools view Central’s girls’ soccer program by creating winning mentalities, winning mindsets, winning attitudes, and winning seasons,” she said. 

Gillespie emphasized, “We will not just be an easy “W” on any team’s schedule again.” 

Behind Gillespie are her four assistant coaches Casey Denton, Madison Verschoor, Samantha Foster and Sidni Trotter, who went through their high schools playing soccer but also advanced to the Division 1 level to play as well, helping Gillespie reach her goals for the Central girls’ program.  

After attending Central for her freshman year of high school, Gillespie decided to transfer to further her soccer career, as she was highly ranked in the country. Gillespie was recruited to Old Dominion University by Linda Hamilton, who was at the time the United States women’s national soccer team captain. Gillespie played her four years at Old Dominion before moving  on to play for the first women’s professional league for four years before having to quit because the pay was not adequate, which was a function of the unequal pay between the men’s and women’s teams.  

That is why it is “so important and beyond deserved that the women just won their equal pay lawsuit. I am excited for the future of women’s soccer and the pay to be equal, so women can make their passion their career,” Gillespie said.  

This is when Gillespie entered law enforcement, becoming a licensed private investigator.  

Gillespie is planning to have her team come into this season as mentally and physically fit as possible, with a mindset that “we can accomplish anything together as a team.”  

Casey Denton, the assistant coach, said, “Gillespie is an OG (Original) soccer player where women’s soccer was just becoming a professional sport and the national team was just on the rise. Being mentally and physically fit is what separated women’s soccer from any other team and really made them the powerhouse they are today, that is a huge emphasis for Gillespie,” Denton said.  

Changing things for the better is what Gillespie is focusing on, building the culture and relationships between player and coach, while “making the girls soccer program a successful and winning program, a program where the top girls soccer players in the state want to come for the academics and the soccer program. My mission is to raise the level of the soccer program to the level of the academic programs and opportunities at Central High School,” Gillespie said.