SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah Royals 2.0 is set to begin in 2024, and the team has reached back into its history to find its new head coach.

Amy Rodriguez, who scored 15 games in 51 games over three seasons with the Royals, was hired as the team’s third head coach Thursday.

“I absolutely love being back here,” Rodriguez said. “It feels a bit full circle to have been here as a player and now to come back as the head coach. I never thought this was going to happen for me.”

Rodriguez has done it all as a player. She’s won a World Cup, an Olympic gold medal, two National Women’s Soccer League championships, and now she’s the first former NWSL player to become a head coach.

“I would love to see more female players jump into coaching roles,” she said. “I’m not the first and I’m certainly not the last. I feel honored that my next step is upon me.”

Rodriguez has never been a head coach before, but she spent last year as an assistant last season at her alma mater, USC.

“I am going to be drinking through a fire hose quite a bit,” she said. “There will be a lot of advice from former coaches. Yes I was a player in this league for many, many years. I know it from that side, but I plan to learn quickly.”

Rodriguez was a high school teammate of Royals president Michelle Hynsik.

“I have experience it as a teammate, she is the hardest worker I have ever met,” Hynsik said. “She’s the most competitive player on the field that I have ever witnessed.”

The entire NWSL and the Royals in particular were rocked by sexual misconduct scandals under the previous ownership. But Rodriguez says this is a completely new era.

“The new ownership group, even in my first phone call, talked about how much they wanted to develop women, develop myself as a coach.” Rodriguez said.

“I think this shows to empower your peers, your colleagues, your teammates, the women in your generation,” Hyncik said. “I think that’s what this new era in the NWSL is about.”

Rodriguez is proud to be one of just five female head coaches in the 14-team league, and she can’t wait to feel the passion from Royals fans again.

“Every time I stepped out on the field, I felt like the fans embraced me,” Rodriguez said. “The crowd, the community, they absolutely wrapped me in their arms, they took care of me and cheered for me.”