Northwest College women’s soccer coach Bobby Peters will have a full plate heading into fall, as the first-year coach has agreed to also take the helm of the men’s program for the upcoming season.
Peters will fill in for outgoing men’s coach Stan Rodrigues, who resigned earlier this month to become head coach at Adams State University in Colorado. Coaching multiple teams is nothing new for Peters, and knowing the time crunch the men’s program found itself in, Peters reached out to administration to offer his assistance.
“I’ve done this before, where I’ve coached a couple of teams — though never a men’s and women’s side together,” Peters said. “At Missouri Valley College, I ran the JV program and was an assistant on the varsity. I’ve managed much larger squads than what we’re going to have here, 90 to 120 kids a year, so I felt I was in a position to help if I could.”
With Peters in place for the season, NWC can now take the time to find a qualified replacement.
“I told them [NWC leaders] I’d rather see them take the time to make a good decision [for a permanent replacement], and they came back and gave me the option,” Peters explained. “It was a pretty smooth transition, actually.”
Peters reiterated that NWC is not looking at his coaching the Trappers as a long-term solution; the school will take the season to assess the situation instead of “rushing to judgment on what the program needs.”
“For me, it’s a smart approach that they’re taking,” he said. “We’ll see how everything goes. They gave me some leeway to get a system in to help me out, which I think is the most important thing. You’re only as good as the people you work with.”
NWC President Stefani Hicswa said she’s grateful Peters expressed an interest, as she’s been impressed with how he’s conducted off-season duties with the women’s team since arriving on campus in March.
“In talking with him about taking on this position in addition to his current duties as women’s coach, he’s handled much larger programs before,” Hicswa said of Peters. “He has the right disposition and the right energy, all of those necessary qualifications to really do a great job.”
Last season was the first in program history where the men’s and women’s teams had separate head coaches: Rob Hill had coached both teams for years before Rodrigues and Lady Trappers interim Jessica Lum were brought in to replace him following the 2016 season. While there is a precedence for having one coach guide both teams, Hicswa said the plan is to go back to each team having its own coach.
“What I told Bobby [Peters] is that I really agree strongly with the model we created to separate those coaching responsibilities,” Hicswa said. “I think from an equity and athletic standpoint, as well as a student standpoint, those teams deserve to have a coach focused on their individual team. This is a temporary fix in an emergency situation, but not the ideal model.”
Peters has already reached out to this year’s recruits, and he’s encouraged by the feedback he’s received. Rodrigues has helped to facilitate communication between Peters and returning players as well, aiding in a smoother transition.
“It’s not one of those things where I’m coming in completely blind,” Peters said. “I have a good idea, and I should settle in the next couple of days.”
As for how the move to two teams will affect his coaching style, Peters said he doesn’t foresee a significant change; he’s confident his system will give both teams an opportunity to adapt quickly.
“The way I have teams defend, the way I approach the attacking end of the field, it will be the same with both teams,” he said. “It doesn’t matter really what formation I’m running, it more depends on who I have. But luckily I know some of the players that are returning, and I know they can fit in to the way I run things. The system I run, it’s not that it’s simple, it’s just that I’ve taught it enough. ... I think it will go pretty smooth.”
Peters plans to keep his expectations realistic for the men’s program, though he hesitates to label the upcoming season a rebuilding one. With a solid core of returners from last year’s 5-5-1 team and a loaded recruiting class, the Trappers should still be considered a team to watch.
“The guys have a strong team, I think,” he said. “They have very solid players in key positions returning — at least for the way I coach. I know what we have, and I think it will be good. Now it’s a matter of locking down who we have coming in. I’ve had a few players already reach out to me that are really excited for the season, and I’m pretty excited as well.”