Sarah Lowdon; true professional for the Houston Dash
The Houston Dash are fortunate to have Sarah Lowdon as a member of the organization. Lowdon has been the interim coach of the Houston Dash since two days before the NWSL opener. With the hiring of Juan Carlos Amoros, she now returns to her assistant role.
Dash president Jennifer O'Neill emphasized that Lowdon knew there would be a search process ongoing during the season and the position was temporary.
"To give to give some background, when the announcement was made, about the results and suggestions of the ongoing investigation, we immediately wanted to make sure that the role of the interim head coach was one that we took very seriously that was also based on feedback from the players," said O'Neill in her opening remarks. "I had conversations with them right away about that sort of next steps of how does this work, because we're six days away from starting the season. What transpired was obviously us naming Sarah (Lowdon) acting head coach, the plan was, and I believe we referenced it when we named Sarah acting head coach, was to have a search process for an interim head coach. And Sarah knew that, the team knew that we were very open with them about the fact that we'd be looking for somebody with head coaching experience at the professional level within the women's game."
The McNeese State University alum was a surprise choice to lead the Dash going forward. It was almost as surprising as the removal of James Clarkson from his head coaching position of the Dash. Lowdon was a surprise choice since she had no previous head coaching experience. It was a bold move on the part of the Houston Dash.
Lowdon seamlessly stepped into the position and moved the Dash forward. Her low key style allowed the Dash to work through a very tumultuous moment and concentrate on success on the pitch. During her time at the helm, she has led the team to the best start of any group in franchise history. She led them to developing a gritty identity that has them among the best teams in the league.
Now Lowdon returns to her first assistant coach role under new interim head coach Juan Carlos Amoros. For all intent and purposes, she has shown the humility and grace to move back into the position for which she was originally hired. This characteristic is what makes her a great asset to the Dash.
"I can't say enough great things about her," said O'Neill about what was next for Lowdon. "So, for me the sort of icing on the cake of this announcement is that we can do two things. We can bring in someone with the experience and leadership that Juan (Carlos Amorós) has and that we can retain Sarah (Lowdon) and elevate her from you know, we did not have previously a first assistant clarified in our structure. It gave us an opportunity to do that.
During her time as the interim, she implemented a three back line set and it paid off. Houston's offense was tied for the most goals scored moving into last weekend's match with the Portland and the least goals allowed in the league. The players bought into her expertise and went out and executed. She led them to developing a gritty identity that has them among the best teams in the league.
Amoros was in admiration of the job Lowdon has done without any experience. Some people like Sarah Lowdon are born to lead. The English native has proved that she can lead and lead successfully even under the most difficult of situations.
"She really stepped into that role and has done fantastically well. When I was asking her how she was doing different things she was doing the right thing so keeping how we say the boat the steadiest until a new captain can come on board," remarked Amoros about how they have interacted. "So, for me, that really caught my attention and her football knowledge of how she was approaching things, how she was finding solutions for the problems that were coming up on the beach. She was brilliant."
Lowdon's performance in the Houston Dash crisis will lead to bigger and greater opportunities at levels some might not previously imagined for her. O'Neill emphasized that the club would support her her in any direction.
"But yes, we want to support her.," emphasized O'Neill. "I think it's a great point about ensuring that there's a best way behind that support in preparing her for the next step of her career. Her opinion and thoughts behind the conversation she had with Juan were very important to us, because she's with the team every single day and she has a great understanding of what the team needs and has been able to be what the team needs. Yes, we'd love to continue supporting her however that looks, including evaluating what we can do to help propel her. Obviously, we understand that she's got a very bright future ahead of her.”
It's unfortunate considering what Lowdon has done in keeping the ship its steadiest as Amoros said that she will not be long for the position of first assistant. Her humility, grace, empathy, and leadership under pressure are characteristics that you don't find very often in someone so young. Houston may have missed out on an opportunity to hire the next big coach in the women's game by looking past their own front door.