Raleigh Wings Women's Soccer Team
The Raleigh Wings formed at the fall gala event for the Raleigh Flyers in 1997 as Dr. Hugo Uyttenhove announced its inception. Ms. Kristin Conrad recorded the ownership later that year in the fall of 1997 and successfully hired the staff. With the knowledge that the Triangle Area in North Carolina was a haven for excellent women players from educational institutions such as UNC Chapel Hill, NC State and Duke University, the search for a solid coaching team needed to result in an experienced staff with championship resumes. They took the first-year team to an 18-1 season, culminating a the national W-League Championship in Boston, MA. Bill Palladino, at that time defensive coach at UNC-Chapel Hill, became the head coach and is an NC Hall of Fame inductee with the UNC Soccer Team. Susan Ellis, now an individual Hall of Fame inductee, became the assistant coach. From the onset, the Raleigh Wings became a team to reckon with. Boasting a scoring average of 4 goals per game, it became an attraction for teams from other countries to measure up against. The group represented a generation that played at the top level in the NCAA, some with the National Team. The Raleigh Wings hosted the National Teams of Brazil and Russia through Nike’s sponsorship. With an opportunity in 1999 to play the US National Women’s team and a trip to Jamaica to play the National Team there, the Wings stuck a flag on the map as one of the best women’s teams. Noting only one league loss in the second season, the team captured the National title again, this time on its home pitch in Raleigh. With two national championships and another year of playing the beautiful game, the Wings hosted the National Championship again, this time falling to the Chicago Cobras in penalty kicks. The team concluded a three-year run with 64 games and a 61-3 record! In August 2000, most of its players became professionals in the WUSA, the first female pro soccer league in the United States. Many Raleigh Wings players are still active in women’s soccer across the country and have won awards in their own right. The induction tonight reflects on everyone involved with the team!