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Conklin Tackles New Role with Women's Soccer Program
Women's Soccer  . 

Conklin Tackles New Role with Women's Soccer Program

by Brad Muller, Director of Content

After four years on the pitch, Anna Conklin has a new role as Director of Operations.

As a defender for the South Carolina women’s soccer team, Anna Conklin (2014-2017) helped the Gamecocks reach unprecedented heights during her four-year career. Now she’s helping them get everywhere they need to go in 2018 in her new role as the program’s director of operations.

“I thought this would be a good way to give back to the program and still be a part of it, and it would give me some really good experience,” Conklin said. “Even though I’m not part of the team as a player anymore, it’s makes me feel like I’m still part of the family.

“Whatever they want me to do, I’m more than willing to do it. I’ve been helping out with a lot of the summer camps. During the season, it will be a lot of the behind scenes operations with our travel, restaurant orders, and helping the girls and the coaches with whatever they need.”

Former Gamecocks working in the women’s soccer program is nothing new, as Taylor Leach (2010-2014) served in the director of operations role after her playing days while working on a Master’s degree, and Chelsea Drennan (2013-2016) served as a volunteer assistant coach last year. Conklin said it’s a testament to the family atmosphere that is built around head coach Shelley Smith and associate head coach Jamie Smith.

“Having that family atmosphere, they want you to be around the program,” Conklin said. “They want us to still be a part of the family and maybe help the younger players. I think having people around who have been through what they’re going through can help the program.”

“I’m not saying I want to relive college, but I don’t want to let go of it either.
– Anna Conklin

Alumni and fans can also help the program through a new initiative called Familia FC, which Conklin is a part of, and will assist with operations when necessary.

“I’m looking forward to helping to build the new Familia FC program,” Conklin said. “It’s a new fan and alumni support group for the program. It can only help our program get better. It lets alumni still be a part of the program, and it gives fans the feeling of being inside the program.”

Conklin has many great memories of her playing career as the Gamecocks reached the NCAA Tournament every year during her time in the garnet and black, which included last year’s first appearance at the NCAA College Cup, Elite Eight in 2014 and 2016, and back-to-back SEC Championships in 2016 and 2017.

“The best memory has to be the last year with the Final Four,” Conklin said. “There’s nothing that compares to that in being on that big stage. Winning the (SEC) championships were great. Being in the role I’m in now, and seeing the players do all the fitness together, it makes me miss a lot of those little moments and memories of being with the team. I just miss hanging out with all the girls.”

Conklin earned her degree in sport and entertainment management in May and is working on a Master’s in the same area. She hopes her new role with the Gamecocks will help her define a career path, which may involve coaching.

“I’ve coached some younger kids; 11 and 12-year-old girls,” Conklin said. “I think I may want to eventually coach at the college level, but there’s a lot to learn. In the position I’m in now, I can see what all our coaches do on a daily basis. It’s good for me to see all that they do that I didn’t see as a player. If I don’t get into coaching, then working for a college team in an administrative role might be where I go.”

While it isn’t always easy to make the quick adjustment from student-athlete to being in the workforce, Conklin is looking forward to the challenge. Conklin has been helping out with South Carolina’s youth summer camps and is looking forward to seeing her former team take the pitch when the regular season opens on August 17 at Stone Stadium.

“That first home game day is going to be tough,” Conklin said. “I’m not saying I want to relive college, but I don’t want to let go of it either. I hear the girls all talk about the season, and I’m so jealous. I wish I could go out there for one more game. Now I have a different role, and I’m going to be the best at it that I can possibly be!”