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Chelsea Spencer & Julie Maheu appointed to Women's Division leadership

By Marty Thompson, 03/08/21, 10:45AM EST


Julie Maheu & Chelsea Spencer.

League1 Ontario is pleased to welcome two additions for the Premier Women’s Division for the 2021 season.

Chelsea Spencer (Director, League1 Ontario Board of Directors) and Julie Maheu (Operations Manager, League1 Ontario) have joined League1’s leadership team and are set to head the league’s 15-team women’s division.

The pair will provide leadership to the league through short-term and long-term strategic planning initiatives, communicate with league stakeholders, and serve as spokespeople for the division.

“As we continue to focus on expanding the footprint of the Women's Premier Division across Ontario, we are excited to support the work that Julie and Chelsea will be doing to create new opportunities for talented young women to play at the highest level in their home community or region and to create opportunities for the women of League1 Ontario to achieve their footballing ambitions, whether they are on or off the pitch,” said League1 Ontario Director, Dino Rossi. 

Meet League1 Ontario’s Operations Manager, Women Division: Julie Maheu

League1 Ontario is pleased to welcome Julie Maheu who takes on the newly created role of Operations Manager, Women Division. The role will take on L1O’s day-to-day oversight, onboarding license holders, and leading expansion.

Maheu, a former NCAA Division 1 player at Eastern Michigan University, was a standout with the Laurier Golden Hawks, where she was a two-time OUA first-team all-star before graduating in 2015. Maheu, who was recently appointed an assistant coach with Laurier’s women’s team, is a marketing professional and coach.

Q. What do you want to accomplish with League1 Ontario’s Women’s DIvision?

Maheu: Coming from an outside perspective, I want to see the League thrive – simple as that. A lot of people in Canada don’t know League1 and we can help change that by elevating the league together – whether it’s digital, marketing, or little things on the operational side. There’s room to grow. 

Q: What’s your role with L1O?

Maheu: Everything from day-to-day oversight, onboarding license holders, leading any type of expansion.... Working with league administrators and with the managing director with Matthew [Braithwaite], working with the board rep in Chelsea, leading a women's soccer focus group, and the list goes on.

There are many roles that I get to help with. I'm sure it will morph in many months to come as well.

Q: What are your goals with L1O?

Maheu: Well, for one, I want a professional women's league. In the short term, I’d like to bring our professional players here locally so they can have an impact year-round. To be able to have that would be super, super exciting.

For L1O, I would love to learn the operations of what it takes to get to that professional level. I'm somebody who's incredibly curious and I want to ask a million questions – getting in with some of the folks here and learning as much as I can will be incredibly important. I'm just so excited to dive in and have some type of impact – be a person to say, ‘I can do something about that’ about the women’s game.

I want to, because I've been in that position as a woman in sport in a male-dominated area, to make a player-first and coaches-first environment. What can I do with you to help you elevate the game?

Q: This announcement will come on Monday, International Women’s Day. How have experiences as a female in this sport molded you?

Maheu: Since I started as a coach, you see it’s very male-dominated and I was really missing that female support system. Within the last year, I actually started this group of acquaintances, friends, all across Canada, who are female soccer coaches, or who strive to be female soccer coaches, and it’s been an incredible experience.

It's really forced me to physically build these support communities and these networks for myself and it’s shown the power of building the table for other women. This opportunity with League1 allows me to open up even more chances for women to excel.

There's been so much momentum and investments into the women's game and it makes me so happy that I cry – I'm just so happy to see people are seeing it. People are seeing the amazing potential that is women's soccer.

Meet League1 Ontario’s Director, League1 Ontario Board of Directors: Chelsea Spencer

League1 Ontario is pleased to welcome Chelsea Spencer who has been appointed as a Director on League1 Ontario Board of Directors. Spencer, who joins in a volunteer role, will represent the Women’s division at L1O board level.

Spencer, an Oakville, Ont. native, is a former NCAA Division I midfielder with the University of Louisville and Niagara University. Spencer, who holds a Canada Soccer “C” coaching license and a seat on the technical advisory committee at Ontario Soccer, played semi-professionally in England and was part of Canada’s youth national team level before taking up coaching in southern Ontario a decade ago.

Q: Let’s keep it simple: Why League1 Ontario and why this position?

Spencer: I love affecting change – especially in something I’m passionate about: Here’s a chance to affect change and support the women’s side of the game.

My community is important to me and League1 is a community. Being able to use those connections to support the pace we want to move forward with in League1 will be important.

This position also allows me to get some experience – sink my teeth into the game at a different level. I'm just glad that I get to experience a different side to soccer in Canada, and Ontario specifically.

Q: What goals or priorities do you have with League1?

Spencer: A lot of it is exposure – really getting that League1 name out there and having our community help broadcast it. That will help in getting younger girls to understand where they can get to and then attracting those quality players – that’s  something I want to work towards. How we do that is going to take a bit of time.

Q: In terms of your personal skillset, how do you see yourself helping to accomplish this?

Spencer: As a coach for 10 years now at the competitive level, mainly coaching females, and being a player who's played semi-professionally, I feel like I can contribute to understanding the players mindset. Knowing what they need, I can be a voice for them.

Q: There are hundreds of women who play in L1O every year – what specifically can you offer each and every one of them?

Spencer: Something as simple as getting these players together, strengthening that community and camaraderie to keep the players engaged. These players are maybe away to school, have full-time jobs... I have ideas to have these players plugged in so when it’s time to come back in the Spring we already have tabs on them.

Also I’m on the Technical Advisory Committee at Ontario Soccer so there will be some synergies considering my role there is helping develop, attract, and maintain our talented players. Those two things should go hand-in-hand.

Q: This announcement will come on Monday, International Women’s Day. How do you plan on using your experiences as a female in soccer to support League1 Women’s Division?

Spencer: I'm the only female L1O board member and visible minority – that’s a double whammy in the best way. I can share my expertise and represent a lot of girls and women who have been metaphorically beaten down in this very male dominated environment.

When I was told I would be a face of League1 Womens I was speechless because you realize you can inspire women to get their voice.

Whether it's being on mentorship programs and supporting other coaches... I know how to support females in sport and I think people will recognize that. It'll hopefully inspire more change, specifically females having more and more of a voice.

It’s ten years of hard work to be seen and be heard. I started coaching when I was 22 – few took a young woman like me seriously. I have that burning passion for this game and for the women who play it. I'm so proud of myself in myself and us as we move forward as a province in soccer.