A conversation with Angie Sutherland, Newton South girls soccer coach

This past fall, the storied Newton South girl’s varsity soccer team welcomed a big change at the helm: a female coach for the first time in more than 25 years. 

Angie Sutherland was a dual threat at Worcester State University, where she played both soccer and lacrosse for all four years and coached both sports at her alma mater Tyngsborough High School before coming to Newton South.

With a deep passion for sports and a love for her coaches growing up, Sutherland said she has always been interested in coaching and finds a lot of purpose in helping her players improve.

“My main priority is inspiring people to want to be the best version of themselves and being this source of motivation, information and positive energy to make people want to be better on their own,” Sutherland said.

Combined with her ability to create connections with her players and cultivate a positive environment, Sutherland’s expansive knowledge of the game helps her make instinctual adjustments, according to senior soccer captain Nadia Mustafa.

“Like 20 seconds into the game she knew what needed to be done, what needs to be fixed and on top of that, what we need to work on in the following weeks,” Mustafa said. “She recognized where strengths and weaknesses on our team were and from that, she basically formulated her own positioning based on our needs.”

Junior soccer player Meghan Holt said Sutherland’s approach to giving constructive feedback was really effective in the development of the team. 

“She gives very specific and helpful corrections to you when you’re playing, instead of some other coaches who kind of just bombard you with criticism but they don’t give you a way to make that better,” Holt said. “Angie tells you what you’re doing wrong. She tells you how you need to fix it, and then from there, it just makes everyone get much better.”

Sutherland’s ability to relate to her players and build a relationship built on trust stems from her unique approach. According to Mustafa, Sutherland would show up to each practice wearing her cleats, always ready to jump into the drills, and Sutherland’s willingness to participate inspired her players as they felt they were never alone. 

“If something was hard and no one wanted to do it, she would be the first one to do it to prove to us that we can do it too,” Mustafa said. “One day it was pouring rain outside, it was dark, it was freezing, and she was doing a passing drill with all of us. And I was like, well you know what? If she can do it, so can I.”

Sutherland’s constant support and care for her players shone through even when the wear and tear of the season set in. Mustafa suffered a season-ending injury during the season and saw this firsthand.

“I’ve definitely been injured before but I’ve never had a coach be so supportive when I am injured and make me feel still a part of the team even though I can’t play,” she said. 

Holt and Mustafa drew comfort from Sutherland’s ability to understand where they were coming from and how they were feeling.

“She’s a woman so she has a whole different aspect to the game. She would know how to tailor to our moods or attitudes and not necessarily give them excuses, but just help us find easier ways out of them instead of yelling at us or ignoring us,” Mustafa said.

Following each game, Sutherland would offer her critiques but would still celebrate the individual improvement. Junior soccer and lacrosse player Sofia Dos Anjos said Sutherland cultivated a positive environment with a focus on positivity and encouragement.

“Vocally supporting your teammates and thinking of others is a huge thing,” Dos Anjos said. “She’s definitely big on helping others and supporting your teammates and doing whatever is best for the team and not you as a singular person.”

Holt said Sutherland brought the soccer community together with her approach to hold joint practices with the Varsity, JV and freshman teams dedicated to games and competitions.

Junior Jacquie Ginsburg, who has had the opportunity of playing both soccer and lacrosse for Sutherland, said Sutherland’s energy is contagious.

“You can feel a closer connection with her just because she shares that excitement and it’s not just a job for her,” Ginsburg said.

If the soccer season is any indication, the lacrosse season is certain to be one where lacrosse players will find an inspiring and supportive environment, fostered by Sutherland.

“My goals are definitely to make the playoffs, but also just to build spirit back into lacrosse and make practices and games something that people look forward to,” Sutherland said.