ORLANDO, Fla. - They may not end up making the playoffs this season, but there's no doubt that the Orlando pride have engineered a terrific turnaround and they've been doing it *with*, and maybe in large part because of, their interim head coach Seb Hines.
"I think just the players, the togetherness of the players, they're playing for one another, um, in order for us to be successful, we had to be together, we had to be together in everything that we do, in possession, out of possession, on the field, off the field, and we brought the group even closer to what they've ever been," said Hines.
It's easy to talk about togetherness, but how does a coach help bring that about?
When head coach Amanda Cromwell was placed on temporary administrative leave by the NWSL, Hines took over on what's become a long-term interim basis. He made some changes — both on the field, and with the team's mindset.
"Training became a lot harder. the intensity of training became a lot more physical, said Hines.
"It's a mentality more than anything, because we've obviously always had this in us. but I would say we are a completely different team," said player Kylie Storm. "You know he added double days, we were running fitness, so I think you can see in the way we play , we're gonna grind it out, we've come from behind, we're gonna put in a full 90 minutes, and I think that is a mentality thing."
Hines may have made big changes to the way the team operates with him in charge, but he hasn't sacrificed anything in who he is to get there.
"I think that's one of the things I've done is just be myself," said Hines. "I've always been very approachable as an assistant, or even my first two years I was a volunteer. I was helping out. and I've tried to take that further as a head coach. I think communication is key, I think it's really important for players development, and where they can improve, and positive reinforcement, and bringing players in to have them conversations and going through clips just so we can keep elevating their game."
The pride have four games left this season, and they will likely need to win all four of those, and get help from other teams if they wanna make the playoffs, but after the run this team's been on this year, that is not out of the question.