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.”
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 academics 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.