Wayne Kraska Retires as US Freedom Coach
The adage is that, "All good things must come to an end". One of those good things ended at the 2010 USAFL National Championships. US Freedom Head Coach Wayne Kraska announced his retirement from the US Freedom.
Prior to and during his reign as Freedom coach, Kraska built a dynasty in Atlanta where he coached the Lady Kookaburras to wins in the first three USAFL Women's National Championships (2005-2007). During this period, Kraska was integral in coaching and developing some of the league's most competitive players. In fact, the Kookaburras did not lose a game until they were narrowly defeated by Calgary in the 2008 Grand Final.
Kraska was named the inaugural women's national team coach in 2006. During his tenure he coached the US Freedom in the first women's international match of Australian Football against Canada in 2007. In 2009, the team became the first women's team to tour Australia, building relations with the women's leagues in Victoria, Sydney, and Cairns, and showing how far the sport has evolved in the US In 2010 the team once again traveled to Canada, this time to compete for the 49th Parallel Cup in Toronto.
USAFL Women's Director, Andrea Casillas was quoted saying, "Kraska's passion for cultivating women's footy has been evident in the strides the women's league has made in such a short period of time. Each year we not only boast record numbers at nationals, but our level of play continues to drastically improve. We wouldn't be here without the dedication, effort and high standard that Krazz has created."
Kraska says "The decision to step down as US Freedom Head Coach was difficult to make. My wife and I are buying a horse farm 90 minutes outside of Atlanta and I'm running my own web design business, Georgia Down Under, I know that I will not be able to give the women of the US Freedom the full attention they deserve."
"The coaching of women's footy in the US has been a highlight of my footy life both with the Atlanta Lady Kookaburras and the USA Freedom. Coaching the Atlanta ladies to the first 3 flags then being coach of the first team to play internationally, then going to Australia with the first team ever will be something I will always remember fondly. I hope the USAFL and its member teams start to further embrace the development of women's footy as it appears Australia is doing and bring it to many more local Americans as a fresh new and exciting sport for women to play. I would like to thank all women players that have made outstanding efforts to grow this sport through participation, coaching and administratively since 2005. There is plenty more to do but their efforts both locally and internationally should be duly noted as being the catalyst in the sports development in the USA during its early years. I plan to stay active as a supporter and perhaps mentor of the sport even if remotely and through online activities like as co-developer with Chris Adams of Baltimore on www.usfootynews.com and the occasional cameo appearance."
Despite his imminent retirement, Kraska was spotted scouting players in order to prepare a scouting/assessment report for the incoming head coach. At the 2010 USAFL National Championships his Kookaburras combined with the Sacramento Screamers and finished 4th.
At the Saturday night seminar on developing women's footy, former USAFL Women's Director Kathryn Hogg, Andrea Casillas, and US Freedom Captain Judith Stein presented Wayne with a commemorative photo montage of all three US Freedom teams. Later in the weekend, USAFL President Rich Mann, presented him with lifetime membership in the USAFL.
The USAFL will be conducting a search for a new head coach. Whomever the new coach is will have big shoes to fill but will be stepping into a squad that Kraska has prepared well for the first Women's Division at the 2011 International Cup.