Seasoned soccer professionals Christina Unkel and Denise Schilte-Brown will lead the launch of the region’s first top-tier women’s professional soccer team.
TAMPA, FL (July 15, 2023) – Super League Tampa Bay has announced Christina Unkel as its first club president and Denise Schilte-Brown as head coach. Super League Tampa Bay is part of the USL Super League and will kick off its inaugural season in August 2024 alongside 10 to 12 other teams, bringing top-tier women’s pro sports to the region for the first time.
Sarasota-based Christina Unkel, J.D, M.B.A is an entrepreneur, legal attorney, multi-business owner, and sports tv analyst/journalist. As a past NCAA collegiate soccer athlete and former FIFA referee, Christina has spent the past 15 years working and performing at the highest professional, international, and collegiate levels of the soccer game among the elite players and industry professionals of the world.
“I could not be more excited for this endeavor,” exclaimed Unkel. “The women’s game is at an inflection point where it is not only the fans looking for more experiences, but also players, broadcasters, and advertisers. The marketplace is fully ready to embrace women’s professional soccer and I am humbled to be part of its inauguration into Tampa Bay.”
“We are thrilled to welcome Christina. She is the right person to lead this club and will build an inclusive, healthy, thriving culture where our colleagues feel celebrated and supported on and off the field,” emphasized Super League co-owner Darryl Shaw.
Tampa-based Denise Schilte-Brown will officially join Super League Tampa Bay in November 2023, upon the completion of her 16th season as head coach for the University of South Florida (USF Bulls).
Schilte-Brown has led USF to six American Athletic Conference championships, including five straight seasons with a championship from 2017-2021. In 2020, she led the team as it won both the regular season and tournament championships in the same season for the first time. She also led the Bulls to four BIG EAST Championship appearances and has only missed two postseason conference tournaments in 15 seasons. She led USF to its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2010, followed by seven more in 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Of her shift to pro soccer, Schilte-Brown said, “I am incredibly honored to lead the first Super League Tampa Bay team and commend this ownership group for committing and investing in women’s professional soccer. This team will be part of sports history.”
Schilte-Brown will be watching the World Cup closely with four previous players competing for their nations.
On his appointment of Schilte-Brown, Shaw said, “We are extremely pleased Denise has decided to join our club. She is leaving behind an incredible legacy at USF, and we look forward to watching her build and shape our team from its beginnings.”
Shaw went on to emphasize that these two crucial appointments will catalyze the club’s readiness for play in August 2024.
Super League Tampa Bay’s formal name, colors, and crest will be revealed later this summer. The team will start play in August 2024 in a temporary home until a permanent, soccer-specific Tampa Bay fans can place a season ticket deposit now ($24 per person) for priority placement and selection once season tickets become available. More information here.
More about USL Super League:
USL Super League will be the highest level of professional women’s sports to ever field a team. The USL Super League is developing the largest women’s soccer network in the world, including:
– 10-12 professional teams in the first season
– 65 pre-professional teams in the W League
– More than 80 USL Academy programs for elite players under the age of 20.
The USL, whose headquarters are in Tampa, also oversees the USL Championship men’s professional league, which includes the Tampa Bay Rowdies.