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Northwest College soccer programs to split

Northwest College will have two new soccer coaches for this upcoming fall season: Stan Rodrigues as the men’s soccer coach and Jessica Lum as the interim women’s coach. They’ll fill the vacancy created when Rob Hill — who had coached both teams — left in March to be a technical coordinator for a soccer club in Boise, Idaho.

NWC’s soccer started with Hill at the helm.

“It just developed and grew over time, and with a lot of athletic programs, that’s how it starts,” said Lourra Barthuly, NWC athletic director. “You have a building year and start to gain a reputation and [Hill] did a great job with that.”

“When it starts to build a reputation, you start to fill out the teams and the school felt like it needed to start focusing on both the teams,” Barthuly said of NWC’s decision to split the program and hire both a men’s and women’s coach. “It brings in a lot of students and they have a great GPA and retention rate and completion rate with both the teams.”

Barthuly said she’s excited for the women’s soccer team to have their own coach and to be their own team. Because Lum was selected as the interim coach, the college will reopen the position sometime at the end of the fall season.

Barthuly also said that she feels that junior colleges are good for student athletes to hone their skills and get an education, to obtain their associate’s degree and then move on to a four-year school to finish both their academic and athletic career.

“We’re invested in making a great transition for these kids to move onto Division I and Division II schools and finish their bachelor’s program. It’s all about progression,” said Barthuly, adding, “I’m excited with where we’re going to go with soccer — with all our athletics.”

She said athletics are a great connection to the community for the college.

“This school does support its athletics and we want to connect with the community more, and I feel like NWC is really backed by Powell and Cody and it will continue to do that and build that relationship,” said Barthuly.

Going from one to two coaches was effectively a wash for the college’s budget, she added.

“When we had one coach that made a high salary, when you split into two, it tends to equal out,” Barthuly said. “There is no talk of getting rid of one or the other.”

There are about 50 students playing soccer between the two teams.

“Athletics do generate income because it is retaining a student and they’re completing their programs. It’s a holistic approach to completing a program instead of a student just attending a class,” said Barthuly.

She noted the high GPAs and completions among the student-athletes, adding, “Funding for a college is multi-faceted — it’s not just tuition, it’s not just room and board that is bringing in funds for a college. It is also state funding for FTE [full time equivalency] and other things,” said Barthuly

NWC’s coaches also have teaching responsibilities, so candidates must hold a master's degree and be able to teach in one of the areas where the college offers a major.

New men’s soccer coach excited to make impact

Between the high school, club and collegiate levels, Stan Rodrigues is bringing more than 20 years of coaching experience to the Northwest College men’s soccer team.

Rodrigues most recently spent the last two years starting up and coaching the men’s soccer program at Eastern Oregon University, posting an overall record of 18-15-1.

It was a chance conversation with then-NWC soccer coach Rob Hill at an ID camp that first got Rodrigues thinking about Powell.

Stan Rodrigues

“He [Hill] made it sound really enticing,” said Rodrigues, adding that he knew he wanted to teach at a junior college during his career.

Rodrigues has a master’s in kinesiology with an emphasis of physical education, but he’s taught a wide range of classes such as Spanish conversation and culture, history of hip hop and coaching and methodology.

While at Eastern Oregon, Rodrigues said he was always looking for another job, but never felt that anything fit. When the position at NWC opened, he decided he wanted to apply — recalling his conversation with Hill.

Rodrigues said his wife was initially like, “Wyoming?” but they decided to apply and see what happened.

Then he called Hill to talk about the position further, asking about the college, the soccer program and the town — and learning that Hill was positive about all three.

“He got me excited to go here,” Rodrigues said, adding, “It just fit. Honestly, it just fit. Everything happens for a reason.”

Rodrigues was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and moved to Oregon during his freshman year of high school.

“I never thought that I would be in Wyoming coaching soccer, but I’m here,” he said. “So I think it’s really good; I think it’s kind of a blessing, because I want to do more and this school is allowing me to do more. I want to teach, I can help with the local community, I can still recruit. I can recruit a deeper pool because of ... how Northwest allows internationals [students] and that. I was pretty limited at my other school.”

His wife, Angela, is also very involved in the program and has built the team’s Facebook page; she’ll do all the social media for the team, making videos, taking pictures and creating posters.

“We’re excited and we look at it as a new adventure,” said Rodrigues.

Rodrigues also has a 23-year-old son who lives in Portland, Oregon, and a 12-year-old son, a 5-year-old son, two dogs and a couple cats who are joining the family in Powell.

“My kid are excited to be here,” Rodrigues said. “I’m excited, I’m really happy to be here. I hope that I can make an impact.”

He wants to make an impact on both the soccer program and the student-athletes’ lives.

“At the end of the day, if I can give these kids good experiences and with my networking and connections with other schools, bigger schools,” said Rodrigues. “I can send them on to finish their bachelor’s degrees somewhere else. And then in the big picture, ... just keep the kids tight and in a family.”

He said that when athletes move on to another school, they often don’t remember their experience at junior college.

“I’d like to try to keep the kids in the same network and help keep that family sense — don’t forget about Northwest College, don’t forget about it here, where you started,” he said.

In hiring Rodrigues, NWC athletic director Lourra Barthuly said the committee liked that his “heart is bigger than his drive for a career. He kept saying family is important; he wants to build a family for Powell and Cody; he wants to bring them together.”

Rodrigues hopes the upcoming season will be a competitive one for the Trapper men.

“It might be a learning year,” Rodrigues said. “I don’t want to say rebuilding year, because each year you’re always trying to build, but I’m hopeful that it’ll be a positive year and I can give the guys the best experience before they move onto other places and other schools.”

The ultimate goal is to continue to build the program, recruit at a high level, bring different cultures into the school and bring in kids who want to go to school.

“I think that’s the main purpose is to get these kids their [associate’s degrees] and move them on,” said Rodrigues. He said the hardest part is going to be only having the players for two years, but he’s excited about helping the students to move on.

Rodrigues added that he feels like he’ll be able to grow as a person in this position and thinks Powell is a great opportunity for him and his family.

“You can judge the strength of the school and the program by how long their coaches stay,” said Rodrigues. “You have almost every single coach here that has been here for five or more years and are young coaches and they are successful. When you’re that successful in your sports, it doesn’t matter if you’re [a junior college] or not, you can move on, you could fight for other positions. Every coach here is very happy.”

Interim women’s soccer coach starts ‘dream job’

For Jessica Lum, being named as the interim coach of the Northwest College women’s soccer team “is basically like a dream job,” she says.

“Soccer is my love, but I’ve never been able to work per se with it,” she said.

Lum said the position kind of fell into her lap and “it was one of those things where if I had said no then I knew I would kick myself for a really long time, forever, had I not said yes.”

Jessica Lum

Previously, Lum was working at Heritage Health Center, doing a lot of outreach and building partnerships and helping people with insurance issues and options.

Lum also has a lot of experience coaching at the high school varsity level and coaching Heart Mountain United Soccer, helping out at various levels and being the U8 girls head coach. She was also a player for many years.

“I played in college and it’s something I’ve always wanted to keep up with,” Lum said of coaching. “I’ve lived in a lot of different places and in those places that I’ve lived, it’s like unless you’ve had a ton of experience you couldn’t just jump into it. In the Powell community it’s kind of different cause soccer is kind of a new sport to Wyoming.”

Lum is from Idaho Falls, Idaho, and played at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota, a Division III school — starting every game as a freshman and sophomore. Of her college career, Lum said “It was a great experience,” and she liked how cademics were just as important as athletics.

When men’s and women’s soccer coach Rob Hill left NWC this year, Lum said the women’s team really wanted their own coach and fought to kind of separate the two programs.

Lum said Hill did a lot for the program, but “one person can only do so much,” and with the growth of the entire soccer program over the years, it was a lot for one person to coach both.

Lourra Barthuly has “been really supportive as the athletic director to make that happen,” said Lum.

For her part, “I’m excited for the girls this year to have [Lum],” Barthuly said.

Lum was able to meet with the returning players and felt from that meeting that the women’s soccer team is wanting to build their own program, separate from the men’s program.

That’s one reason why Lum wanted to take the position — “because it is kind of a turning point for the women’s program and the college,” she said.

For starting a new program, Lum said she’s up to the challenge, saying her past jobs involved starting new programs.

Lum said the big draw to the coaching position is to play a strong role in the players’ lives and encourage them to also be strong.

“As a woman athlete, sports have ... played a huge role in my life — like a positive influence,” she said.

For the upcoming season, “it’s a rebuilding year,” Lum said, “but it’s a big transition point for women’s soccer; that’s how I see it at the college. I’m excited.”

She added that, “It’s an adventure and I’m looking forward to it.”

Her contract with NWC started June 1. As an interim coach, the position will be reopened at the end of the fall season, at which time Lum can apply for the permanent coaching staff position.

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