Manya Puppione, formerly Makoski, grew up playing several sports. As the youngest sister with older brothers, Manya learned early how to stand up for herself and have that self-motivation to get better.
When she reached high school, Manya had to choose between soccer and gymnastics. She started doing Olympic Development for soccer and had the opportunity to join the US U19 for several experiences and won a world cup with them. She went on to play soccer in college at Arizona State as well as play with the US U21 team as well.
After college, Manya got drafted to play in the professional league in the United States at the time before it folded. She then played several places overseas before returning to the states to play Sky Blue in the newly formed National Women’s Soccer League. After playing for Sky Blue, Manya made the difficult decision to retire due to the number of concussions that she had sustained. She had multiple concussions over the course of her career and ultimately she decided that retiring was the best thing for her overall health. We talk about the need for continued study with concussions and how serious they are.
She talks about the difficulties of playing overseas like the different foods and keeping in touch with family back home. She also talks about the amazing opportunity that being overseas provided her and how thankful she is for those experiences.
After retiring, Manya worked several different jobs before her collegiate coaching career. In 2016, she was offered the opportunity to coach with her former collegiate coach as an assistant at University of Maryland. She talks about how coaching is a calling and she loves being able to build relationships with the girls that she coaches.
In 2019, Manya had hip surgery and also made the choice to take a head coaching position that she was offered at a local Division III school. Then that fall, she ended up having surgery to have a tumor removed from her brain. She talks about how she chooses one word every year, and that year, she chose two words, Grit & Grace, which was very appropriate for what she needed that year.
Manya talks about how that experience taught her so much about how to be a head coach and prepared her to step into her current role as a Division I Head Coach at George Mason.
Manya’s lessons for life include embracing the process of learning and growing. Sport translates very well into how you see the world. Experiences that you have as an athlete are ones that you carry with you beyond the field and into the real world.
She also talks about the importance of being self motivated. You have to put in the extra work in order to be successful. You have to have this balance of confidence and humility.
The coach that stands out for Manya was Tracy Leone, her Under 19 coach with USA Soccer. She helped Manya understand how to raise the level of her own expectations for herself. Her vision statement now as a coach herself, is “making better people through soccer.”
In her highlight reel, Manya talks about dukTiG brand notebooks, which is a company started by her good friend from Connecticut. They create notebooks for coaches as well as players to keep track of workouts & goals.
She is also loving being a part of a coaching mastermind group with Molly Grisham. It is nice to have that space of coaches who are going through the same things you are going through.
Manya’s blooper reel and pass the ball unfortunately get cut off, but Manya does pass the ball to her friend Tiffany who created the dukTiG brand notebooks.