Michigan Hawks Create A Space For Girls Soccer

What started out as a few dads trying to create a space for their daughters to play soccer, has turned into a destination for people all over Michigan, for Girls soccer.

The Michigan Hawks is the only all girls’ soccer club in the state. So, there is no surprise that families come from all across Michigan, and even a few from Ohio, just to be on the team.

The Hawks, located in Livonia, Michigan, started in 1974, as an all-female soccer club. They started off small, as one team, but since there were little to no opportunities for girls to play soccer at that time, the club quickly evolved. Even adding a boys team at one point, The Wolves. Though in 2019, the two divisions separated businesses again, allowing The Hawks to solely function as all female teams.

One of the early players, was Michele Krzisnik, who went from playing with The Hawks, to a coach, and the Director of Coaching, for The Hawks.

“Because we participate in the ECNL (Elite Club National League), there are not a ton of clubs that do, so obviously our standing is very good, and our history of sending girls to college and providing opportunities is pretty good, so I think people are willing to drive the distance to come here,” Krzisnik added.

ECNL’s primary focus is to develop a league in which they make sure that the young female athletes are taken care of, providing opportunities to help them grow.

“That has been a vehicle for us to get our girls into different settings because college coaches come out in huge numbers to these ECNL showcases,” said Krzisnik.

“As far as the female focus, I think at the end of the day, what we found in order to do the right thing by all of the girls, just with Title IX and everything that has been helpful for women and women’s sports, it was really good to be able to focus solely on the best decisions for the girls. That’s kind of where were at with what we’re doing now,” said Krzisnik.

Title IX was brought about for women athletes, giving them the right to equal opportunity in sports in educational institutions that receive federal funds, from elementary schools to colleges and universities. 

“My intent has always been to give back to the club and kind of everything that I have, in terms of my career, and really life, to be honest with you, is a product of growing up in the club. And later coming back and working for the club, and developing as a coach within the club, so our intent is really to kind of promote that same environment for girls and allow them to have opportunities,” added Krzisnik.

After The Hawks soccer club, Krzisnik continued to play soccer at the University of Michigan, where she excelled in the sport. She credits this program, paving the way for her to be able to go to and play for the University of Michigan. She also credits her University of Michigan coaches for helping her, to hold herself accountable, and, to the highest standards. All of her soccer life was shaped by women coaches, which led her to become a two-time team captain at the University of Michigan. Initially, she started off as an engineering major, but says that she ‘got smart’ along the way, and switched, majoring in movement science. 

“What I learned out of all of my experiences, was soccer was a way for me to development my own confidence, but also, it was an avenue to open doors, and that’s what I found with a lot of the girls I coach, that soccer is a tool to develop relationships, to develop life skills, but also, it opens opportunities and doors for these girls that may or may not have existed without the sport,” Krzisnik said.

The environment in the league is just as intended, to provide girls and young women with opportunities to compete against each other, develop their skills, and build confidence in a safe and supportive environment. It gives girls the opportunity to play a sport that they may otherwise have not been able to play. Additionally, since many of the coaches are female, it can provide girls with positive role models, being coached by women who have experience playing at a high level. This atmosphere fosters a sense of community among female athletes. Krzisnik feels this wholeheartedly, and has been coaching with the club for 26 years.

“I hope they continue to use it and educate themselves, because that’s really important to me, so as much as, you know, you’ll see some kids, going to the pros, and I’m not completely against it, but I already led the charge on discussing with my girls that the reason why I do this is so that they all educate themselves, get a better education hopefully, and can provide themselves with whatever they want in life, whatever they want to go after. Being educated is the first step to all of that, so that’s why we do it, I think that’s what the program offers,” added Krzisnik.

“I think the pretty cool thing is that we’ve always aimed to try to make their lives better, and in return hopefully they would pass it on to others, so I think that that’s what we’re trying to do and it’s a small scale version, but if everyone does what we’re trying to do in their own small way, I think we’d make the world a better place, make Michigan a better place. And for these girls, whomever lives they touch, I hope their doing the same thing. I think it’s kind of one of those pass it on things,” concluded Krzisnik.

Currently, The Hawks are No. 12 in the Top 20 of girls soccer clubs nationwide. In 2017, they finished in third place. Soccer season with The Hawks start the second week of April.