Rhian Wilkinson is a bit of an accidental coach. It wasn't her lifelong dream, or anything. Her parents are English professors, and, until she got a taste of coaching late in her playing career, she figured education might be her path beyond soccer.

But, at 39 years old, the road has led to becoming the head coach for the Portland Thorns, one of the more visible and successful women's professional sports teams in the world. She was introduced on Nov. 30 as the successor to Mark Parsons, who left after six seasons to coach the women's national team for the Netherlands.