January 2024 Volume 20

Former Reggae Girlz Coach Lorne Donaldson Hired by Chicago Red Stars

Reprinted from Chicagoredstars.com
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Reprinted from Chicagoredstars.com

The Chicago Red Stars have named Lorne Donaldson as the club’s new head coach. The former head of the Jamaican Women’s National Team led the Reggae Girlz on a historic Women’s World Cup run as Jamaica became the first Caribbean nation to advance to the round of 16.

Donaldson, 68, joins the Red Stars ahead of the 2024 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Draft.

“Lorne has a proven track record as a winning coach and an advocate for his athletes. We believe he has the experience and leadership skills to elevate our talented group of players,” said Laura Ricketts, Red Stars Executive Chairperson. “As the president of the elite youth club Real Colorado, Lorne also has deep ties to some of the finest U.S. players.”

“Lorne is the right person to lead us next season,” said Karen Leetzow, Red Stars president. “Lorne’s experiences as a decorated player and as a winning coach on the youth, professional and international level will be invaluable for our players, coaches and staff who have the opportunity to learn from him.”

Prior to joining the Red Stars, Donaldson served as the assistant head coach (2019) and head coach (2022-2023) of Jamaica, helping lead them to two consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments. As head coach during the 2023 Women’s World Cup, Donaldson led Jamaica to defeat Panama and stave off powerhouse teams, Brazil and France, along the way to advancing to the round of 16.

“I’m excited to work with this talented team that includes some of the NWSL’s best players to turn the Chicago Red Stars into a championship club both on and off the pitch,” said Donaldson. “I look forward to partnering with Laura Ricketts and Karen Leetzow, who are committed to creating a culture of excellence and accountability. What I have most enjoyed in my career is coaching elite athletes and helping them reach and exceed their fullest potential.”

Donaldson’s coaching experience includes time on the youth level where he coached the Jamaican under-17 and under-20 youth national teams, and with the elite youth soccer club, Real Colorado, where he serves as president and executive coaching director. Through his position with Real Colorado, Donaldson has developed many NWSL stars including Janine Beckie (Portland Thorns FC), Jaelin Howell (Racing Louisville FC), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC) and Mallory Swanson.

Prior to starting his coaching career, Donaldson was an accomplished soccer player whose career started in Kingston, Jamaica. Donaldson earned call-ups to the Jamaican National Team where he played for four years before playing for Metropolitan State University in Denver. A three-time All-American, Donaldson was inducted into Metropolitan State University’s Hall of Fame in 1995.

Off the pitch, Donaldson was the co-founder of the Black Soccer Coaches Association of America helping to bring African and Caribbean players and coaches a better understanding of the American football culture.

Coach Donaldson will join the Chicago Red Stars in the coming weeks to help the coaching staff prepare for the upcoming NWSL Draft Friday, January 12. The NWSL kicks off the 2024 regular season Saturday, March 16.

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