Alumni Spotlights are Q&A's with former Brandeis student-athletes, across a myriad of disciplines, as they reflect on their Brandeis experience and how it has shaped their lives today. Read more spotlight features here.
This summer and fall, in conjunction with Homecoming 2022, we will be spotlighting a series of student-athletes who played for our Hall of Fame coaches and have gone on to be successful coaches in their own right.
Name: Pam Vaughan '90
Sports: Women's Soccer / Women's Basketball / Softball
Current job: President, PV Team Consulting
Pam Vaughan, Brandeis Class of 1990 and Brandeis Hall of Fame Class of 1996. Pam was a three-sport standout for the Judges, playing soccer, basketball and softball. She was an All-American in soccer, scored more than 1300 career points in basketball and ranks third in career steals in softball. Pam won the Max I Silber Award as the top female student-athlete as a senior and was a five-time Academic All-American. Pam had a successful career as a girls’ high school soccer coach at Nashoba Regional High School coach and is currently the President of PV Team Consulting, where she provides leadership, mental toughness and team building workshops. She has presented for a number of Brandeis’s programs over the years.
What drew you to Brandeis in the first place, as a Waltham native?
My sister (Kellie ‘89) was being recruited, and she loved it, and it seemed great to me, too! Academically, it was a fantastic school and I could play three sports. Plus, it was easy for my parents so they could come to all of our games. I thought, “Well, that would be convenient!”
Tom Foley, who used to be the tennis coach at Brandeis, was my Algebra II/Trig teacher at Waltham High School. He really encouraged me to come to Brandeis.
How important was being able to play all three sports?
Very important. Back then, it was pretty common. Not as much today. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t. I played three sports in high school and planned to continue.
People used to ask me, “What was my favorite sport?” And I always answered, “Whatever season I’m in.”
In high school, I also ski raced, so back then I even had four sports going on.
What was your favorite memory of playing soccer at Brandeis?
I loved how our team rallied around each other. We had a season when - in overtime, we had to play an automatic 30 minutes [no golden goal] - and eight of our starters were injured. Fortunately, I wasn’t one of them. There was one span where we played five overtime games, maybe not in a row, but five of them in a short span. By the fourth or fifth one, when you realize it’s another 30 minutes after a full 90 minutes, I was like, “You have to be kidding.” That was a tough season!
I loved playing with my sister. We had a true knack to find each other on the field. Plus our different styles really complimented each other.
Your 1988 team was the first Brandeis women’s team that made it to the NCAA Tournament. What was special about that season?
We weren’t especially skilled, necessarily. But we had a lot of grit, and I think people rose up and exceeded expectations when we needed to. We rallied around Kellie a lot - she set the precedence for the toughness and expectations of the team. And the team got along really well - on a team chemistry is really important.
It really rang true when I coached my high school teams. We were lucky to have tons of talent. But talent only takes you so far. I started thinking about what I was doing to get the best out of teams. I was incorporating mental toughness, leadership, and chemistry. Those three things were essential. Coaches forget those things sometimes. They go right to the Xs and Os. I think teams with strong leadership, are mentally strong, and work together have the best seasons!
What led you to become a soccer coach?
Kellie and I had been coaching since high school. On Saturdays, my junior year of high school, we would go to the gym and coach different age groups on the hour from 9am-5pm. I remember one Saturday it was prom, and I was coaching all day, then ran home, showered and went to my prom.
In college, on Sunday mornings we coached some of the younger kids for the Prospect Hill ski team. We also coached a U12 Waltham girls soccer team. We even brought the team to campus. They thought that was pretty awesome!
I continued coaching after graduating. After I got married, my husband and I coached a U-14 team in our area for a while, even though we didn’t have kids in the program. Coincidentally, when those kids were high school juniors and seniors, I was offered the [Nashoba Regional] High School job.It was great to be able to work with some of those kids again!
Some years after graduating, when I was well into coaching. Denise and I reconnected. We’d discuss all things coaching. One year we went to the national soccer coaches convention together in Philadelphia. Once I started my consulting business, I did multiple workshops with her teams.
Denise really evolved with her coaching style over the years. We were both always learning and would share ideas.
What are you most proud of professionally or personally?
Aside from my daughters?
Coaching is planting seeds in people. Athletes aren’t going to remember scores or results down the road. It’s more about the life lessons. Sometimes they are taught through sports. If I have been able to give student-athletes some of those intangible skills - including but not limited to; mental toughness, resilience, resourcefulness, compassion, communication, leadership, commitment, synergy - all of which I think are really important in life beyond sports as well. If I have positively influenced people and they pass it on to others, then that makes me very proud. Yes, I wanted to win games and championships, but having a positive impact on others is much more important to me.