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Changing Team Culture: Standards vs. Rules

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Danielle Slaton (@DanielleVSlaton) is a Positive Coaching Alliance Trainer (workshop leader), who played soccer for the U.S. Women's National Team from 2000-2005, earning a silver medal in the Olympics and a bronze in the Women's World Cup. She played professionally in the WUSA, where she won a championship and was the league defender of the year in 2002. She also played professionally in France, and earlier captained her Santa Clara University team to the 2001 NCAA title. There, she was a three-time All-America and she was named the 2001 NCAA Scholar Athlete of the Year.

After her playing career, Danielle coached at Northwestern University and earned her Master's Degree in Sports Administration. She now serves as a soccer analyst for the Big Ten Network and Fox Sports, as well as director of Santa Clara University's Jerry Smith's Coaching For Life Academy.

In this video, Danielle recalls the challenges of changing the culture at Northwestern, which had endured a hazing scandal before her arrival. One of her first steps was to invoke standards instead of rules. Rather than trying to spell out exactly what players should and should not do, she set standards along the lines of "if your mother or grandmother would not approve, then don't do it."

Danielle also describes how she combatted cliques that had emerged within the program, primarily by putting players who were out of step with the culture she was establishing on "an island." Some players quit and others "swam over" to her new culture.