April 27, 2000
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Janet Rayfield, assistant women's soccer coach at the University of Illinois, has stepped down from her role to serve as a National Staff Coach for U.S. Soccer.
In her new position, Rayfield will assist the U.S. women's national staff in identifying and preparing young talent for future roles in the national team program. Her role includes coach and player education. The U.S. program has four people assigned to cover the country. Rayfield will head efforts in Region II which includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. These positions were established as part of an initiative of "Project Gold," which is aimed at maintaining the US dominance in the international world of women' soccer through the 2000 Olympics and beyond.
One of the top 10 soccer players in America (male or female) in the early 1980s, Rayfield led the University of North Carolina to back-to-back national championships in 1981 and 1982. Rayfield spent nearly ten years as first an assistant, then a head coach at University of Arkansas, guiding the Razorbacks to the 1996 SEC West title and coaching 27 All-SEC performers.
Rayfield joined the staff of Head Coach Tricia Taliaferro last summer and also began pursuit of her doctoral degree in kinesiology at the University of Illinois. "Janet brought tremendous experience and knowledge of the game,' said Taliaferro. "I know the players are going to miss the interaction they had with her. I'm excited for her because I know she has been working for an opportunity like this."
Fortunately for the Illini, Rayfield will continue to live in Champaign and serve as a volunteer assistant coach. "We'll have the most qualified volunteer assistant in the country," Taliaferro noted.
"I truly appreciated my short time here, and being a part of the growth of the program at the University of Illinois has been rewarding," said Rayfield. "I will remain in Champaign and am looking forward to seeing the growth of the Illinois program from a little different perspective."