Missouri Native Brings Head, Assistant Coaching Experience
On his first official Friday as Northwest College women’s soccer coach, Bobby Peters decided to get a feel for his new school by attending the Region IX-North women’s basketball play-in game at Cabre Gym.
The Lady Trappers rolled over visiting Western Wyoming 103-64 to advance to the Region IX Tournament, and while many NWC students had left campus early to get a head start on Spring Break, there were still plenty of die-hard Cabre Crazies in attendance. Their loyalty to the Lady Trappers made an impression on the new coach.
“It was a fun environment; everyone was enjoying themselves,” Peters said. “I saw kids playing together, parents discussing the game and fans cheering their favorite players on. The ladies played with intensity and passion, which was great to see.”
Peters was also impressed with Lady Trappers head coach Janis Beal, recognizing a similar coaching style to his own.
“The players really seem to have bought into her system of play,” he said.
Peters hopes his coaching style will have a similar effect on the women’s soccer program. Coming off the team’s first winless season in the program’s history, Peters said he hopes to bring a culture change to Trapper Field for the 2018 season.
“Failure isn’t failure,” he said. “It’s a lack of opportunities.”
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Peters said becoming a coach was almost a foregone conclusion. His father was always coaching, and when Peters wasn’t starring on the pitch as a player, he was learning the intricacies of the game off of it.
“I started helping out my brother’s team back in high school, and I actually formed a team with my father, a summer and spring high school team, so I’ve always been around coaching,” he said.
As a player, Peters began his collegiate career at East Central College, a junior college in St. Louis. As a sophomore, Peters helped guide the Falcons to a No. 3 ranking in the nation before continuing his career at Missouri Valley College. He was a two-time team captain during his tenure with the Vikings. Peters called himself a “utility player,” though he played primarily on the wing.
“When I played there, I was the only American starter on the squad,” he said, laughing.
His playing days over, Peters became a student assistant for the soccer program at Missouri Valley to complete his degree. After a brief stint in sales following graduation, Peters decided coaching was where he wanted to be.
“I went to the real world and found out I didn’t like sales jobs so much,” he explained. “I decided to go back into school and figured out I really wanted to coach.”
After another year as a student assistant at Missouri Valley, Peters was offered his first head coaching job — taking over the reins where he’d starred as a player, East Central College. In his two years at the helm, the Falcons won the Missouri Community College Athletic Conference; Peters was named the conference’s Coach of the Year in his second season.
“I had a lot of success at ECC with my players moving on [to larger schools],” Peters said. “We were just unlucky in the postseason; each team that we lost to in the tournament ended up winning it.”
He was then lured back to Missouri Valley College, serving as an assistant coach and as the head coach of the JV team. During his three seasons at Missouri, the Vikings twice made what was basically the Sweet 16 of the NAIA and was ranked in the Top 25 in each season. Peters then stepped back from coaching once again — this time to help his wife Tracee get her new business off the ground. Coaching was always in the back of his mind, however, and when he ran across the NWC job posting, Peters decided to take a chance.
“I didn’t hear back for a while, and all of a sudden I get the call, and I told my wife, ‘Well, honey, guess what?’” he recalled.
A number of factors played into Peters’ decision to accept the job, not the least of which was high ranking of the Powell school district — an important consideration for his two daughters, Bailey, age 6, and Chloe, 9.
“I was very pleased with that,” he said. “I’m always looking out for my family as well as myself. So I basically decided to take a leap and see what was what with this.”
At NWC, Peters is taking over a program in flux; last year’s interim coach Jessica Lum was a late addition to the program after head coach Rob Hill moved on, leaving her little time to recruit. The Lady Trappers finished 0-10, and some wondered about the future of the program.
Peters knows his work is cut out for him.
“What it came down to for me was the players that were here,” he explained. “I asked them ... what they thought of last season. There were a few grumbles, and that was to be expected. But then I asked them what they thought of the school, and they were like, ‘Oh, we really like the school.’ So I said, ‘Here’s the thing, I can fix a program; I can’t fix a school.’ If the players are all still happy with the school, that’s a huge step for me.”
NWC men’s coach Stan Rodrigues said Peters will be a welcome addition and is looking forward to working with the young coach as he gets to know his team and the community.
“Bobby Peters will be a good fit at NWC because he understands that the process to create a strong program is not done overnight,” Rodrigues said. “He is eager to build a strong program with the right student athletes. He’s had a vast amount of experience as a player and other coaching assignments that he can draw from.”
In town less than a week, Peters has already started the recruiting process, though it’s a little later in the game than he would have preferred.
“The recruitment process can take a while. I like to be way ahead of it. But we’ll see where it goes,” he said. “I like to do a mixture. I like to have local kids, I like to have out-of-state kids and I like to have a couple of internationals.”
As for expectations of the 2018 season, Peters said he’ll keep them realistic, but doesn’t see why NWC can’t field a competitive side.
“I’m going to take one game at a time, but have goals in mind,” Peters said. “I’d like to aim for a conference championship, that’s my No. 1 goal. That said, I want to take each game one by one. The goal realistically is to get the monkey off the back and get that first win. Nothing else is going to matter until we do that.”