Soccertown, USA has done it again. After two years in the United Women’s Soccer League (UWS), Paisley Athletic FC is joining the pre-professional USL W League as an expansion side for the 2023 Season.
“We are thrilled to welcome Paisley Athletic FC to the W League for the 2023 season,” said Amanda Vandervort, USL Super League and W League President. “The Metropolitan area is rich with high-caliber talent and passionate fanbases. Paisley Athletic will be a great addition to the W League and we are excited to see what the club accomplishes both on and off the field in the coming season.”
Founded in 2021, Paisley Athletic FC’s objective is to provide a pathway for competitive women’s soccer in the legendary Hudson County soccer community and broader NJ soccer market. To reach their goals, the Kearny, NJ based club has turned to the USL W’s Metropolitan Division to further expand the player pathway available to their athletes.
Paisley’s organization already boasts an impressive front office, starting with a management team that has a combined 50+ years of competitive soccer experience along with the business and brand building skills required to take pre-professional soccer to the next level.
Elevating the pre-professional women’s game at home
A move to the USL was a strategic step for Paisley Athletic’s future, according to Laura Correnti, the President and Co-Founder of Paisley Athletic. A particular draw to the league was the USL’s demonstrated commitment to developing full player pathways for female athletes as outlined in the USL Step Up Strategy revealed earlier this week.
“We believe the ecosystem the USL is building is what’s required to deliver on our vision to do the same from the Academy level to pre-professional and beyond,” Correnti told AllForXI. “The strategic focus the USL outlined in Step Up, [to] build a multi-dimensional pathway through long-term sustainability to support the existing women’s soccer landscape and create growth opportunities, is aligned with what we aspire to do at Paisley Athletic FC. We believe the USL’s approach and infrastructure is designed to drive more professionalism, commitment, and opportunities, and should help us achieve similar goals at the club level.”
Paisley Athletic move to the USL W is just the beginning of what the organization is looking to achieve. The club’s management team has ambitions of establishing a USL Academy program as well as exploring opportunities along the men’s pathway. Plans for camps and clinics throughout the year are also underway. “To expand the pathway and in response to player interest, we launched Paisley Athletic Academy this past Winter for girls ages 13-18,” Correnti explained. “Paisley Athletic Academy will enter its first season this coming Spring.”
For Jennifer Pettigrew Tuesta, a former player who is now the general manager of Paisley Athletic, she has seen first-hand the opportunity available through Paisley’s initiatives. “Having been part of Paisley Athletic FC since day one as a player and now in my new role as General Manager, I’m incredibly excited to see the club move into a league that offers a true professional pathway,” she told AllForXI. “I’m proud of how far the club has come and can’t wait to see what we accomplish in the USL.”
While Paisley prepares for the upcoming USL W season, the team will look to build upon the success from the 2022 UWS season, including a first place finish for their reserves team in regular season conference play. “We’re incredibly proud of our club’s success in 2022,” Correnti said. “Mackenzie Meixner, who is returning in 2023, received All East Conference 2nd Team and Ironwoman of the Year honors while our club received Top Social Media and Top Brand Design recognition league-wide.”
The club will also hold their Annual Paisley Spring Brunch fundraiser event in April ahead of the 2023 season which beings in May. Last year, the sold-out event featured Gotham FC general manager and former U.S. Women’s National Team player Yael Averbuch West as guest speaker.
Paisley isn’t stopping there. The club is currently exploring a partnership with a European women’s club to develop global expansion opportunities. The organization is also developing a Paisley Ambassador program which will feature pro players, industry influencers, and beyond who will help Paisley Athletic foster community engagement, grow awareness for the club, and support player and club development.
Essential community buy-in for a strong future
As the club looks forward to 2023, Correnti and her team are not only exploring expanded advertising opportunities in Hudson County to get the word out about Paisley, but are actively exploring new game-day activities and entertainment partnerships. Specifically, Correnti hopes to elevate the game-day experience by bringing in food and beverage options for fans and starting up a supporters club.
“We’d love to have the best and biggest tifos in women’s pro-am soccer,” Correnti said, “Inspired by the amazing work of [Gotham FC’s supporters group] Cloud 9!”
Pivotal to Paisley’s success has been the support of the community in Kearney. A slew of local partnerships with companies like Soccer Post Kearny, Pristine Auto Group, Kingdom Cleaning, ShopRite of Kearny, and Ava Martinez Photography, as well as support from local government officials including Kearny Mayor Alberto G. Santos and Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle has allowed Paisley to thrive and make this next move to the USL W league.
“Throughout our season, the local community showed up to home games in Paisley merch, made homemade signs, entertained the crowd with musical performances, volunteered to distribute giveaways and organize activities, and actively supported our club on social media,” Correnti said. “We were really thrilled to create a positive and inclusive environment for the next generation of players as well. We had numerous local youth clubs, including Kearny Thistle, PASCO, Ironbound and others, participate in game day festivities, including escorting our players to centerfield for kickoff, competing in halftime games, and spending time with us for post-game autographs. These were some of our players’ favorite moments and memories this past season and we can’t wait to elevate this experience in 2023.”