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Seattle professional soccer team trains in Missoula

FILE - Seattle's women's professional soccer team, the OL Reign, and Megan Rapinoe, are coming to train at the University of Montana. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
FILE - Seattle's women's professional soccer team, the OL Reign, and Megan Rapinoe, are coming to train at the University of Montana. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
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The OL Reign, the National Women's Soccer League's team from Seattle, decided to come to Missoula to train at the University of Montana.

The NWSL decided to have a Champions Cup tournament instead of a season and asked the teams to come to Salt Lake City to quarantine during training. The OL Reign wanted a little more freedom, so they contacted the University of Montana to see if they could use UM’s facilities.

Within a week, the team, along with some of the best in the world, like U.S. National team players Megan Rapinoe and Allie Long, were in Missoula training. There to watch it all -- the University of Montana soccer coaching staff.

"They're very open to us being around the coaching staff and coming to all the practices," Montana head soccer coach Chris Citowicki said. "So in terms of a learning opportunity for myself and the staff, being able to see high level players -- we just came from a training session now, it's absolutely incredible. I'm already -- just going out there this morning, just makes me want to get back to coaching so much. I'm so jealous of everything that they get to do. And it already gave me a ton of ideas of things we need to talk about as a coaching staff and try to implement."

Within the first day, Citowicki and staff were already picking up tips on something that gives some coaches fits -- how do you get your team ready for the first games of the year?

"How do I structure my preseason?" Citowicki said. "If I've got a game coming up in two to three weeks, we get to get all those ideas to see how they would do it in preparation for a major tournament and then see if that applies to our preseason model as well."

The OL Reign will be training at UM until the end of June, and Citowicki and his staff have full access watch film sessions, practices and to pick the coaching staff's brain over that time.

"How do they structure things? And not ’I would do it this way, I would do it this way,’ instead, just show up with an open mind. Observe," Citowicki said. "At the end of the whole process, what did we like? What can we take? What would we have potentially tweaked if it was us?"

While the Montana players aren't allowed to view practice yet, Citowicki hopes to get some of the girls out to watch and learn while the OL Reign are in town.

"The biggest thing I would want them to see is the training intensity and how seriously they take all that," Citowicki said. "But at the same time, there's that perfect balance that we're always trying to strike here of, 'I'm competing, but I'm also having the time of my life. Because it's so much fun being out here.' And you can see them today, they were training the same way that our kids are training. They just had so much fun being out there, they were loving every single second, and yet they were crushing each other."

When the OL Reign first posted their plans on Twitter, some asked why they were heading to Montana. Citowicki says not only is it a great way to showcase the state but also comes as a great new recruiting tool.

"How few people nationwide actually understand how much this university offers as far as facilities," Citowicki said. "We have professional teams coming here who want to train here, because we have an incredible field, we have an incredible weight room in the Champions Center, we have a great athletic department. A great university in an amazing setting, and it's a beautiful place to be. I'm really happy that somebody picked up on that and brought a pro team here to train."

Citowicki has already had conversations with the coaching staff about having the team come back to Montana in the future.

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