RICHMOND, Va. – The ECNL Girls announced that Ralph Richards, a long-time ECNL club director and coach, will be the new Commissioner of the league.
Richards will be taking over for Jen Winnagle, who transitioned into the league’s Chief Operating Officer role 9 months ago, and will be the third Commissioner in the ECNL Girls’ 14-year history.
Richards has been the ECNL Girls Director for St. Louis Scott Gallagher since 2013, helping lead a restructure of that program over the past decade, culminating with his U16 St. Louis Scott Gallagher team winning the ECNL National Championship only one month ago. In this process, the club has made marked improvements every year, winning a North American Cup, qualifying increasing numbers of teams for the ECNL Champions League, and advancing more teams deeper into the postseason each year.
Over the past few years Richards has also been involved in a variety of ECNL initiatives and programs, including leading the creation of the ECNL Regional League – Heartland Conference and the ECNL Regional League – Great River Conference, and in the National Selection Program.
Richards coached in the ECNL Girls in its inaugural season in 2009, when he was the Girls Director of Carmel United (now Indiana Fire). He moved from Carmel United to St. Louis University where he was an assistant for one year before moving to St. Louis Scott Gallagher. Richards has a Bachelor of Science degree in Sport and Exercise Science from the University of Indianapolis and is a US Soccer “A” licensed coach.
“We are exceptionally excited to have the benefit of Ralph’s many years of experience in the league as a coach and director, and his credibility as an established leader in the youth game,” said ECNL President Christian Lavers. “His deep understanding of what is important to clubs, coaches and players, along with his professionalism and vision for the future, will help the ECNL continue to lead American soccer forward.”
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to join the leadership team of this amazing league,” said Richards. “I have always believed in the mission of the ECNL and I’m honored to have the chance to be a part of an organization that has, and will continue to, raise the standards of the youth game in the USA. I’m excited to work with coaches, directors, and clubs from across the country, in a collaborative effort, and to complement their efforts to provide the most positive youth soccer experience possible.”
“I couldn’t be happier for Ralph and his family to have this opportunity with the ECNL,” said St. Louis Scott Gallagher Girls Director of Coaching Scott McDoniel. “Ralph has been a tremendous asset to our club on many levels and he will bring great new value to an already strong team at the ECNL. He is a great person, a relentless worker, and he cares passionately about this league. The ECNL is the pinnacle program in our club, and we know it is in great hands with his stewardship.”
Richards will finish the 2022-2023 season coaching at St. Louis Scott Gallagher as he begins his new role in the ECNL.