October 17, 2022
(MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.) — Nicole Lukic led Minnesota Aurora Football Club to an unbeaten debut season (11-0-1) in the United Soccer League and Women in Soccer (USL W League). Before being named “Coach of the Year,” Lukic lead the Minnesota Aurora, a community-owned and women-led soccer team, to a breakthrough season, winning the Heartland Division and reaching the playoff final. Lukic spoke with The Click about the season. This interview was edited for clarity and length.
The Click: Tell us about how you got the job as head coach. Did you have any prior knowledge of this team?
Nicole Lukic: “So, I moved to the Twin Cities in July 2021 for a different job. I heard whispers of this team coming to the area. So, I just started paying more attention to it, like following them on social media. The job was posted around this time last year. I applied and got the first interview then I got the second interview. A lot of the experience that I have is building new programs, which was attractive to them [the founders]. After receiving my Coach A Licensing, which is the highest license in the coaching field, I was offered the position in early December of 2021.”
The Click: What is it like to be part of a team led by women and the community?
Nicole Lukic: “People within the community owned pieces of the team, which was super special. We have all these people from different backgrounds, from all over the country. Some were from eight different countries that were invested in our team and wanted us to be successful. That’s great, but it also means we have to do things right since a lot of people are watching us. We wanted to make decisions that our community owners could be proud of. I’ve never worked on an all-female staff before. So that was a cool experience. I’m just grateful that the club’s founders thought it was necessary to have female coaches leading the team. My resume speaks for itself, I am certainly qualified to have the opportunity.”
The Click: Do you have a favorite coaching moment from this season?
Nicole Lukic: “One moment on the field that sticks out to me is after we won our first playoff game. We were down at halftime 0-1, and we’ve made some of the biggest adjustments all season. The players took what we said and put it into action. We scored some great goals! After that game, I was like, “wow this is incredible!” Reflecting on the season as a whole, I’m grateful to all of our players who said yes this year and trusted us to create the environment we promised. They [the players] were all laid-back and mature. There wasn’t any drama, which was very nice as a head coach.”
The Click: I’ve heard professional female soccer players speak about being abused by primarily male coaches. How can you build a relationship with your athletes as a female coach without any harassment?
Nicole Lukic: “Building a relationship with every single player on the team is probably one of the most difficult; and time-consuming things. You care about helping them improve as players, but you also care about them as a person. I met with every single player one-on-one to talk about what we want this program to be, this is how we want [the team] to play, and what are their personal goals.”
The Click: What are your goals for the coming season? Where do you see this team in the future?
Nicole Lukic: “My goal, because I’m so competitive, is probably going to be to win a championship. This also includes winning our division. We can’t overlook that, so that would be the first goal to achieve. I would say that our founders have big goals, like becoming a big NWSL team. I think the [soccer] market has a huge interest in this team. I’d like to believe that the NWSL would like to create a team here. If that is the way the founders and community owners want to go, I wholeheartedly believe that is something they can achieve someday in the future.”