Tanya Vogel graduated from the GW women’s soccer team in 1996 as one of the most successful players in Colonials history. A highly decorated athlete, she was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year in 1996 and still ranks fifth on GW’s all-time points list with 52.
Not only was Vogel successful, her team was confident. They made the A-10 Tournament in each of her four years and in her senior year had its most successful season in history with a record of 10-7-4.
“We truly believed we could do anything we set our minds to, because my coach made us believe anything was possible,” Vogel said. “We thought we could do anything as a team, and everyone embraced that.”
But the team spirit and dedication that made Vogel and her teammates so successful had disappeared by the time she returned to GW in 2000 as a head coach.
“When I came back, it was like a dysfunctional family, everyone was out for themselves,” she said. “All of the players were self-centered, as opposed to the selfless play I was used to.”
It was her rookie season all over again, but this time Vogel was behind the bench. And this time it was not her own values, dedication and skills she needed to work on, it was her players’.
The team needed a transformation and if anyone knew how to do it, Vogel did. She had an experience that no other coach in Colonial history has ever had, she would lead a team she once played for.
Emphasizing that same passion, excitement and enthusiasm she had as a player, she instilled the same keys to success she learned as an athlete into her players.
“It didn’t change right away,” Vogel said. “I said that you have to get along and appreciate each other if you want to do well as a team. I was taught that everyone has ability and influence, and I wanted to convey that to my team.”
And things steadily improved. Finishing with a 5-14, 4-6 in the A-10 in her first year, Vogel realized something needed to change if the team wanted to succeed in the future. The 2001 season was better, as the team finished 8-10 overall and 5-6 in the conference.
Senior Kesha Christoph has played for Vogel for the past three years and noticed how much her coach has changed the team. She said Vogel’s insistence that her players keep a positive attitude while constantly motivating and challenging themselves transformed the team.
“She installed a solid foundation and put beliefs back in program,” she said. “She really turned it around from an average conference team to one of top contenders in the A-10.”
Vogel credited her team’s success to the team’s family dynamic, one where every player worked together and looked out for each other, both on and off the field.
“As a player, we all worked hard and looked out for each other,” she said. “It was like a family, we were all sisters.”
Vogel’s turnaround reached a milestone this year, as her team finished with a winning record (10-9, 7-5 A-10) and qualified for the A-10 tournament for the first time with her at the helm.
Vogel’s former teammate, Lauren Komar (’98) called the milestone a “huge metric that shows how she has truly begun to turn around this program.” Komar said, as an alumna, it excited her to see a fellow teammate achieve so much success, especially after so many difficult seasons early on.
The tourney berth is not the only sign of the women’s soccer program’s about-face. Her players say Vogel’s everyday attitude is proof of the program’s bright future.
“I decided to come to GW right after my recruiting trip,” freshman Audrey Earhorn said. “Tanya’s passion and excitement for soccer definitely drew me in.”