When the Northwest College women’s soccer program takes the field for the 2019 season, it will be with its fourth head coach in as many years.
Bobby Peters, hired last March to turn around a program that’s struggled since the departure of longtime coach Rob Hill, has resigned his post after one season. His last day on campus will be Jan. 4. The St. Louis native will take over as head coach of the women’s soccer program at Cochise College in Sierra Vista, Arizona.
“I got an offer from another institution that was basically too good to pass up,” Peters said. “I was switching back to going back down to one team here, and I had to make decisions on that end. I was looking at a couple of different places, and one stuck with me.”
Peters was brought in to be the women’s coach, but when the men’s soccer coach resigned just before the start of the season, he wound up running both programs in 2018.
“We wish Bobby the best in his new position,” said NWC president Stefani Hicswa. “I appreciate his willingness to coach the men’s and women’s team this season. A search for his replacement will begin right away.”
Turnover continues to be an issue for the athletic department at NWC which, in the last two academic years, has seen coaching changes in every athletic program, save wrestling and rodeo. Peters, who replaced interim coach Jessica Lum, was the only NWC coach outside of rodeo and wrestling who wasn’t coaching on an interim basis.
Arriving last spring, Peters inherited a Lady Trappers program coming off its first winless season in program history. Under Peters, Northwest finished 0-12-1 in 2018, the tie coming against Gillette College. A talented mix of international and American players, the Lady Trappers struggled all season with injuries and low participation numbers, though they continued to show improvement as the season wore on.
“I wanted to do a bit more on that end [with the women’s program],” Peters said. “I think we could have won three or four games; it just wasn’t in the works for us, but they’re on the right path. We have several of the freshmen re-signing who were key contributors for us, very good players. So I think the women’s side is going in the right direction. ... We’ll still be in good hands.”
Following the departure of head men’s coach Stan Rodrigues last summer, Peters was approached by Northwest about serving double duty, taking over the reins of the men’s team for the 2018 campaign. The interim coach guided a talented Trappers squad to a 5-5-1 record, advancing to the Region IX Tournament semifinals before losing to Sheridan College 4-2.
“On the men’s side, we’ve signed a few players, and there will be a couple of them coming in the spring,” Peters said of the Trappers moving forward. “I think the team will be in a very good spot.”
Peters knew going in that the men’s head coaching position was on an interim basis for one season, with the position opening up again for a nationwide search once the season ended. A search for new coaches is now underway, and Peters said he will do all he can to help with the transition — including helping his sophomores who are interested in continuing their athletic careers to move on.
“The school will be doing everything possible to find new coaches right away, and I’m going to do all I can in the next two weeks to help them to know who I was talking to, the recruits we had, opportunities for them to find other players, and where they might be,” Peters said. “I did a lot of recruiting last year to find ins and outs, so there are a lot of players to reach out to. There are some good players who are still looking.”
Despite his short tenure at NWC, Peters had nothing but positive things to say about the college and community.
“Overall, everyone has treated me really well up here,” he said. “My kids love the school system, and everyone at the college I’ve really enjoyed working with. I think they’re on the right track with Brian [Erickson] being the athletic director; he’s trying to do a lot of things to improve the programs. I think he’ll definitely lead them in the right direction.”
Erickson said while the college is disappointed to be losing Peters, he’s confident the search for the two vacant coaching positions will be productive.
“We’re in a good time of year to find coaches,” he said. “We have some good returners, and with Bobby [Peters] having signed three more girls, I think we’re in a good place of having some good kids coming back. With the new kids, that will give the women’s team eight or nine players, and I think that’s a pretty good number for a coach to be able to come in and build on.”
Peters said whoever they bring in as his replacement will be coming into a positive situation, as the school and the community are very supportive of their athletics.
“I had a great time up here, I really did,” Peters said. “It was a fantastic opportunity. I’m very appreciative [of the NWC administration] for giving me the opportunity. I would have liked to stay a little bit longer, but whenever you get a great opportunity, you don’t just pass it up.”