Red Stars tout new era behind coach Chris Petrucelli but still lack transparency
Red Stars chief business officer Vicky Lynch regrets the club’s decisions following Dames’ departure and the fact that they did not publicly address their plans for rebuilding the organization into a positive and safe environment for all employees.
The Red Stars are eager to move forward, beyond claims of abuse by former coach Rory Dames, but they’re lacking one major component in moving on: accountability.
Since Dames was allowed to resign quietly in the middle of the night last November, the organization has had one news conference, and it was to introduce their new coach, Chris Petrucelli, on Tuesday.
Red Stars chief business officer Vicki Lynch said they were doing what they felt was best for the club internally, even if their actions didn’t reflect that externally.
Lynch regrets the club’s decisions following Dames’ departure, and that they did not publicly address their plans for rebuilding the organization into a positive and safe environment for all employees.
With the hiring of Petrucelli, the focus quickly has shifted from regrets to ushering in a new era.
“I will be as transparent as I possibly can be going forward,” Lynch said. “I know [associate general manager] Michelle [Lomnicki] and Chris [Petrucelli] will be that way as well.”
Petrucelli joins the Red Stars after nine seasons at Southern Methodist University.
Despite statements about transparency, Lynch chose not to say who was part of the search committee that selected Petrucelli as the new coach. She opted instead to reveal the breakdown of the committee, which included nine current Red Stars players, three assistant coaches, Lynch, Lomnicki, three owners and a sports psychologist.
The nine players who stepped forward to join the search committee weren’t concerned with the level their new coach came from or whether the coach was a woman or a man, according to Lynch. They just wanted the best person for the job, Lynch said, and it was a unanimous decision to hire Petrucelli.
Petrucelli said he heavily considered the strained situation he was coming into when he accepted the coaching position and said it wasn’t something he had to do but rather chose to do. His focus now is on looking forward, not backward.
The Red Stars’ new coach spent eight hours with the team on Monday, during which time he said the players were smiling a lot and appeared happy. Petrucelli said that the players appeared to have moved on.
During Dames’ tenure, it appeared from the outside that the Red Stars were one of the best teams in the NWSL and were consistently in playoff contention.
“You can look at it from the outside, and it can look one way,” Petrucelli said. “There’s a possibility that when you get deep down, maybe it’s different. I won’t know that until I actually get to spend some time with them.”
Petrucelli is inheriting a roster that saw several substantial departures — and few additions — over the last few months. Lomnicki, a former player for the club in 2009 and then from 2013-15, was named associate GM in January and will work with Petrucelli in developing the Red Stars’ roster.
The club has touted this as a new era after implementing significant changes to protect players from further harm. These changes include Petrucelli reporting to Lynch and Lomnicki, the hiring of a human-resources administrator, and Lynch reporting to the board of directors.
Lynch would not disclose who is on the board of directors. Time will tell if this new era is any different than the old.