Amy LePeilbet’s new coaching job at Salt Lake Community College in Utah has plenty going for it.
The Prairie Ridge graduate and former U.S. women’s national soccer team player is coaching in a location she adores. Plus, it includes the opportunity to help college athletes develop their skills, just like her former job on the coaching staff of the National Women’s Soccer League’s Utah Royals.
“One big thing for me is I love Salt Lake City,” said LePeilbet, who was hired last month as the associate head coach for the Bruins. “I’m a big outdoors person. We get to live right by the mountains, which is awesome.”
When it comes to soccer, LePeilbet’s coaching roles with the Royals included leading the franchise’s reserves team, which was made up mostly of college players.
“I absolutely loved it,” she said. “It was one of my favorite coaching opportunities I’ve ever had. This is a new challenge for me working on the college level, but I’m coming into a program that already has a great foundation. They want to do big things.”
After three years with the Royals, including a stint as the team’s interim head coach in 2020, new ownership moved the Utah franchise to Kansas City.
“I had a decision to make,” she said. “If I wanted to stay in the pro game, I would have to move, which I did consider. I looked at some options and had some great offers. At the end of the day, I really wanted to be in Utah.”
With SLCC, LePeilbet joins a team that is ranked No. 3 this week in the NJCAA Division I national rankings and was the national runner-up during the spring 2021 season.
“I definitely have a competitive side to me,” LePeilbet said with a laugh. “That’s what was exciting about this program.”
As she did with the Royals reserves, helping young players develop and improve is a major reward.
“I know how much time I invested in my own development, so that’s something I really enjoy helping current players with,” she said. “The evolution of players’ games is never ending. You can continually grow as a player until your final weeks of playing.”
LePeilbet also is able to share experiences from her career to guide SLCC athletes. She played with the national team from 2004 through 2013, winning the gold medal in the 2012 Olympics and winning silver in the 2011 World Cup.
Many young players ask her about the big games in international competition. Yet they also want to know how she navigated difficult times in her career.
“There’s a different connection I can find with players because I’ve been in their shoes,” she said. “Maybe they’re not getting the minutes they want. I can offer some advice that can help them through it and get out on the brighter side.”
Her experience as an interim NWSL head coach also has provided LePeilbet with a unique perspective.
“I never thought I’d have that opportunity,” she said. “I know the game well. I played at a high level. I’ve now coached at a high level. But I felt like I still had more development ahead of me.”
However, the experience helped grow her confidence.
“It put me in a position to realize, ‘OK, I really am ready for this,’” she said.
But being a head coach isn’t her main goal going forward, according to LePeilbet.
“I’m really happy as an assistant coach, and I’m really happy as a head coach,” she said. “If the right head coach opportunity presented itself to me, then I’d definitely be open to it.”
A Michigan man: Crystal Lake South grad Trevor Keegan has started Michigan’s first two games this season at left guard, the first starts of his career.
Keegan, a junior, has helped the Wolverines to a 2-0 start with victories against Western Michigan and Washington. Michigan ranks fourth nationally this season with 339 rushing yards per game. The offensive line has allowed only one sack in its two games.
Last season, Keegan appeared in three games at left guard along with playing on special teams.
UConn standout: Connecticut volleyball setter McKayla Wuensch (Marian Central) was named to the Dartmouth Invitational all-tournament team last weekend after posting 103 assists in three matches.
Wuensch, a graduate student who transferred from Wichita State to play her final season at UConn, posted 39 assists and a season-high 19 digs in a loss to Dartmouth in the tournament finale. Her season assist high this fall is 43 against Buffalo on Aug. 28. Her tournament play also earned Wuensch a spot on this week’s Big East Conference volleyball honor roll.
Wagner, Hogs on a roll: Redshirt senior offensive tackle Dalton Wagner (Richmond-Burton) made his 20th career start last weekend for the University of Arkansas football team in an upset win against then-No. 15 Texas.
Wagner helped the Razorbacks rush for 333 yards and outgain Texas by more than 200 yards in a 40-21 victory. Now 2-0 to start the season, Arkansas broke into the Associated Press Top 25 poll at No. 20 this week. It was the first national ranking for the Razorbacks since 2016.
Gannon greatness: Crystal Lake Central grad Madde Blake, a sophomore outside hitter at NCAA Division II Gannon University in Erie, Pa., was named all-tournament last weekend at the Clarion Invitational.
Blake posted 43 kills and 33 digs while helping Gannon (7-1) go undefeated in four tournament matches. Against Lock Haven in the tournament’s first match, Blake posted season-high totals of 16 kills and 10 digs.
· Barry Bottino writes about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at email@example.com and follow @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.