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Feb, 2022

ISC Alum Grace Bahr Enters the Coaching Ranks with USLW Side Indy Eleven

Grace Bahr’s distinguished playing career includes world-class competition at every level of the game.  Bahr was a standout for Internationals SC from 2010 through 2016.  She also spent time in the U.S. Youth National Team system, earning call-ups for the U-15, U-18, and U-19 WNT teams. 

The Broadview Heights, OH native spent two seasons at both the University of Wisconsin and Xavier University.  Bahr wrapped up her collegiate playing days with two standout campaigns for XU, earning All-BIG EAST Second Team honors as a junior in 2018 before garnering a First Team nod in 2019 as well as All-BIG EAST Tournament Most Outstanding Defensive Player and All-Tournament Team honors.  Bahr also played four seasons of WPSL soccer from 2017-2020.

She began her coaching career at Xavier as a volunteer assistant in 2020.  In 2021, Bahr earned an invitation to the training camp of NWSL side Racing Louisville FC, where she participated as a training player for the squad’s inaugural 2021 season.  She would rejoin the coaching field in December 2021 as an assistant coach for Indy Eleven. 

Being involved with a prestigious and successful club like Indy Eleven is a special opportunity.  It is made even more special when paired with a new project in USLW.

“It is such an amazing honor and opportunity to be working not only with a fantastic organization overall, but with the coaches and players we have compiled for this team,” Bahr said. “I think Indy Eleven's recognition provides a great platform for the USLW to get started quickly and successfully.  My expectations are pretty simple, I expect us to win games and compete at the highest level.  The opportunity the USLW provides for female players is great for the growth of the game, and I think the players, myself, and Pauly all believe we can build something special in Indy.” 

Bahr noted that her coaching career was inspired by her time at ISC and Xavier. 

“It is hard to think I would ever be in this position without my club experience at Internationals and my college experience with Xavier,” Bahr continued. “I had the privilege to have coaches that understood the balance of supporting me but also pushing me and challenging me.  I think it is important to recognize the best method to get the best performance out of each player, and the best coaches I've had both at Internationals and Xavier knew exactly how to do this, which is how I intend to model my coaching from.”

She pointed out that three coaches played a massive role in her career and where she is today.

“At the club level, Keri Sarver and Zdravko (Popovic) were the coaches that I will always look up to,” Bahr added. “They both challenged me and were willing to ask things of me that I was shying away from myself.  They incorporated the physical, tactical, and technical side of playing into training and drills and made sure that I was faced with adversity at the club to be prepared for the rest of my career.  My Xavier coach Nate Lie is the other coach who I will always praise and give credit to for my success.  In the same ways that Keri and Zdravko challenged me, so did Nate.  He always would tell you that if I wanted to be a leader, I had to be bulletproof.  How I took this and continue to implement it is that for myself to be a leader I had to work on myself on the field and off the field so that I could help and guide anyone coming through the program.  If I didn't have my hard hat on and worked every day for the team, then who am I to instruct others to do the same.  The mentality each of these coaches gave me is something I am truly grateful for.” 

Popovic was quick to point out the contributions that Bahr made during her time at ISC.  She has left behind quite a legacy.

“We are so proud and happy to see one of our former players stay involved with the game and share her passion, knowledge, and love for the game with all those that she shares time with on and off the field,” Popovic said.  “Grace was one of the integral players with Internationals during her youth career.  She helped us to grow to the next level.  She continued on the same route during her collegiate days, and now I'm sure she will be a big asset to further the growth of players and the game as a coach.  We wish her the best.  Once Internationals, always Internationals.”

Her decision to move into the coaching ranks proved to be a rather easy one.

“After finishing college soccer and having had discussions with coaches of mine about the coaching world, my interest was already sparked,” Bahr said. “I was a volunteer assistant for Xavier during the 2020 season before leaving for preseason with Racing Louisville so I got a taste of coaching at a high level and I knew that's what I wanted to do.  The Midwest is a funny place for soccer because it seems like everyone knows everyone somehow, so I think the connections through club and collegiate soccer made the transition and opportunity with Indy Eleven an awesome full circle moment for me.” 

Bahr’s vast experience and passion for the game will make her a strong asset for players.

“As a coach, and as a player, I pride myself in taking my experiences and letting them be a teaching moment for others and myself to always believe in yourself,” Bahr noted. “Transferring was a huge step for me and realizing what I can bring to a team with the right environment and right people around is something I want to be able to create as a coach.  I also think that my experience as a player at different levels will provide a great perspective and gauge for the level of soccer that we are looking to develop.” 

Bahr is busy preparing for the upcoming season after the club hosted successful tryouts in December.

“The December tryout was a great event to see talent we've had our eyes on for the team and also new talent we were delighted to see show up,” Bahr said. “There was an array of talent and different personalities that we continued to evaluate to see what players mesh best with others.” 

Indy Eleven head coach Paul Dolinksy is looking forward to working with Bahr in the USLW.

"Grace is a unique and great addition to the Indy Eleven W League staff,” Dolinksy said. “She has a wealth of knowledge of what it takes to be successful as a player in the Midwest, both by her own successes as well as the competition she has played against from a very young age.  Add to that her collegiate career and time spent in the NWSL and she brings a very competitive playing mentality to the coaching staff.  I believe her ability to relate to the young ladies as a player will translate very nicely to her role as a coach this season.  We are excited to get on the field and get to work."

Photo Credit: Indy Eleven/Trey Higdon 

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