Amy Woff ’17 of Major League Soccer on turning an escape into a profession
Written by William Dahl ’25 of the Morehead-Cain Scholar Media Team
For Amy Woff ’17, a conversation with her father prompted the decision to pursue a career in the sports industry.
“He just asked me a very simple question: ‘If you walk into a room, what is something you love to talk about and feel comfortable talking about?’” said Amy, the manager of player development at Major League Soccer (MLS).
Her answer? “The death penalty and football,” she said (or soccer, as Americans call it).
Both interests, however incongruous, were informed by the British Morehead-Cain’s experiences at UNC–Chapel Hill.
She chose peace, war, and defense as her major to be able to take “a bunch of different courses in a bunch of different areas,” as well as minors in history and medical anthropology.
As a scholar, her Summer Enrichment Program (SEP) and Lovelace Fund for Discovery experiences led her to intern at the AIDS Support Organisation in Masaka, Uganda; the NYS Division of Human Rights in New York City; and Maurice Blackburn Lawyers in Melbourne, Australia.
Following graduation, an opportunity in Louisiana allowed her to further expand her interests in criminal justice and civil rights. Amy landed an internship at the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center (LCAC) in New Orleans, where she assisted attorneys and investigators during the pre-trial process and organized training sessions for jury selection.
The internship forever changed how she views the U.S. legal system, Woff said.
“It required a lot of life experience to be working with people who are facing the death penalty or life without parole, and I didn’t take that lightly,” the alumna said. “It was new to me to be so intensely involved in those conversations.”
The pivot to sports came from an introduction facilitated by the Morehead-Cain Foundation with Camilo Durana ’04, executive vice president of MLS, during one of her SEP internships.
As someone who’s played soccer throughout her life, Amy said the sport has always been a “defining factor” in her character and approach to life. But it wasn’t until speaking with Camilo that she considered linking this love with a profession, and consulting with her father only clarified the decision.
A few months after connecting with the company’s HR department, Amy got the call.
“It was a woman from MLS saying that a new role had been posted, and she told me I should apply for it.”
Amy moved from New Orleans to New York City in 2018 to accept the role of competition coordinator. She’s since received three job promotions within five years. Despite how different her day-to-day responsibilities look like from her first day in the office, it’s always been important for her to “stay as close to the game as possible.”
In her managerial role, Amy focuses on talent identification and player development for collegiate and professional soccer.
“I spend a lot of time walking around green fields across North America, and that’s how I want it to stay,” she said. Growing up, playing five times a week and competing on the weekends was normal.
Making soccer a job from an outlet took some time getting used to, but Amy said she wouldn’t have it any differently.
“As football became my work, I realized I didn’t want it to be my escape anymore,” she said. “It used to give me teammates and friends, challenges and tribulations, all of those things. Now, it gives me different challenges, and it’s still providing me with a lot of richness in my life but in a very different way.”
Amy participated in the Sports Affinity Group coffee chat at the Foundation on January 21, 2023. Join the affinity group on the Morehead-Cain Network.