July 23, 2014
Christine Husni begins her fourth season with the women’s soccer team this fall. Husni, a native of Gonzales, La., was recruited by and played for Vanderbilt head coach Derek Greene at Ole Miss. The former Freshman All-American taught high school English for two years through Mississippi Teacher Corps, a program which recruits recent college grads to teach in underprivileged areas, and started a boys soccer program at Byhalia (Miss.) High School. When she isn’t coaching, she is working out and biking with her husband, Dr. Afeef Husni, and relaxing with their two bullmastiffs, Max and Tina.
Your brother (Pete) and cousins played soccer — so there was that draw to the sport?
When I was young, I was lugged around to every one of my brother’s soccer tournaments, so I always saw the aggressive nature of the way guys played. My brother is 5 ½ years older than I am, but when we were home, my brother and I were always playing outside. Many times, my cousins and my brother’s friends would come over to play and they would always include me. That’s why I always played soccer a little bit different than other girls. I was very physical, hard on the tackle, and big in the air. Those were my defining qualities as a player. I always had that in all sports that I played growing up, I was super competitive, and tried my hardest in everything, but I found through soccer I was able to really excel because of those certain qualities that I picked up from playing with my older brother.
Were you thinking about high school teaching and then coaching? Was that the plan?
Those are the two professions I have always had in mind. My mom is a teacher and has been teaching for 36 years. Growing up, the aspect that I loved the most about her teaching was that she was always off in the summers. She drove me to every practice and was able to travel to every tournament, I don’t think that she has missed any of my games that I have every played in. I have always been so impressed by her dedication to my brother and I, especially in the summertime. That is one of the reasons why I always thought about being a teacher, especially when I become a parent. But, my aunt (D-D Breaux) is the LSU gymnastics coach and has been for 37 years. She is labeled the “Dean of Coaches” at LSU because she has been there for so long. This season she received the title of National Coach of the Year, and I have grown up seeing how passionate she is about the sport that she loves. So, this is why I have always thought about both professions, teaching and coaching. Looking back on it, I definitely enjoyed my two years as a teacher, but now that I am coaching, I love it. It is so fun to be around a sport that I have grown up with and I am so passionate about.
You’ve almost had a full class since you’ve been here. Is it neat to see them grow?
It is neat to see them grow. I was nervous when I first started, being so close in age to the team. My senior year at Ole Miss was the freshman year of the senior class of my first season at Vanderbilt. So, I actually played against some of the girls that I was coaching. I didn’t know if they would view me as a coach or as a peer and what my role would be on the coaching staff. I shouldn’t have been nervous at all though, the girls respected me as a coach, and I think that it helped that I was close to their age. I quickly settled in, and now I can’t believe that I am about to start my fourth season with Vanderbilt. It feels like yesterday that I was introducing myself to the team. Now, those freshmen are seniors. It blows my mind how quickly the time has passed and how much that group has matured, both on and off of the field.
What do you enjoy most about coaching?
Yes, I definitely love that aspect and, honestly, I love just being around the game. In the spring, when our seniors aren’t with us, I’m able to get out there and play with the team during practice. Being a young coach sometimes it is hard for me to be on the sideline and figure out how to say what I want to say to the girls. Whenever I’m practicing and scrimmaging with the team, it is much easier for me to talk to them and coach them.
Derek recruited you to Ole Miss and recruited you to coach with him here. So he has been a pretty big influence for you?
He has been a huge influence. I have looked up to him from day one when I played for him at Ole Miss, and I still look up to him. I couldn’t imagine working for anyone else. He has been a great mentor for me, not only with coaching, but with my life. We had a really good player/coach relationship at Ole Miss and it has transitioned to a great relationship as co-workers. When I was a player, I think that he respected me because every day, whenever I went out and trained, I trained as hard as I could. That’s who I was as a player and that is who he is as a coach. We had a general respect and bond for each other because of both of our work ethics.
What do you enjoy doing with your free time?
Both my husband and I enjoy working out, and we do a lot of activities together. We like to road bike and mountain bike, and play co-ed soccer, softball, and kickball together. We ran a half marathon in New Orleans together in February, which was a big deal for Afeef. He wasn’t a big runner when we first met. He ran his first 5K with me when we were dating and he was like, ‘I’m never doing that again.’ Now we’ve run countless 5Ks together. We also love walking and playing with our two bullmastiffs, Max and Tina. Daily, he will lift weights with his friend and I will do a random exercise. I get into different types of exercises, last year at this time I was really into hot yoga and now I am into HotBox, which is kickboxing in a heated room. I am really enjoying it.