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Women’s soccer coach leaves UIS, mixed feelings

Mixed feelings erupt as Pete Kowall leaves the UIS women’s soccer program without a head coach for the spring season. Kowall has coached UIS women’s soccer since it began, and leaves after five seasons.

Kowall will begin his new journey at a Division I college in Indiana. “I feel that there are times to coach, times to stay, and a time to leave. I felt that this was the best time for me to leave” stated Kowall. “I decided to leave the program that I built so that someone else can take the program to the next level.”

A decorated coach, Kowall came to UIS after coaching individuals for 13 years in the Olympic Development Program, as well as student athletes at Illinois State University and the University of Michigan.

Coming to UIS in 2008, Kowall began to build the program, obtaining three important players to help him start the women’s program.

Casey Elmore, Kelli Kubal and Jessica Jaime were Kowall’s first players to join the UIS women’s soccer program; however, Kowall struggled to put together a full roster in the beginning seasons.

“[Kowall] wasn’t just a coach, but he was a mentor to me. He pushed me beyond what I thought my limits were and taught me to be a leader. He encouraged me to be confident. That was definitely something I wasn’t before I came to UIS,” Elmore said. “[Kowall] worked his tail off. One of the hardest working guys I have ever met and he had so much passion for what he was working towards. He worked day and night with not just me, but the whole team to better us not just as a soccer team, but as students and as well as individuals.”

In fall of 2010, Kowall’s third season as head coach, UIS women’s soccer signed nine recruits who all helped win UIS’ first GLVC game, against Kentucky Wesleyan.

In fall of 2011, Kowall signed nine new recruits. With this incoming class, many individuals came from winning backgrounds and entered UIS hoping to change the program; however, the end of the season brought many doubts to players on the team. The team had only four wins.  Many players became uncertain about Kowall and his coaching skills.

Emily DeLong a junior defender and midfielder said, “Players weren’t exactly in the appropriate positions during the season. There were better combinations that could have resulted in more wins, but [Kowall] never bothered to give those different combinations a chance.”

Kowall in response said “You can try certain line ups and try changing things or you can stay and try to improve on what you think works. It was not just my decision it was the coaching staff’s decision. We played players where we thought they worked best.”

Fall 2012 only brought more disappointing feelings. With four recruiters and three wins, some players began to blame Kowall for the poor chemistry on the field and lack of wins for the season.

Ally Redington, senior forward, said, “I originally transferred here as a junior for [Kowall] and the team. But by my senior year my feelings completely changed for [Kowall]. He never gave the team an opportunity to change and improve. He never gave me the chance to play to the best potential.”

Redington continued,“My last senior game of my entire soccer career, I was benched by [Kowall]. To me, I felt disrespected throughout the whole season. [Kowall] and I never saw eye to eye and at times I felt that he played favorites on the team. I definitely was not one of his favorites.”

Kowall commented, “I played players who trained hard and I thought could win games. If I played favorites I did not do it on purpose, I played players who worked and earned their playing time.”

Now, Spring 2013, Kowall says goodbye to UIS and the program he started.

“As much as I hate to say this, I am happy to see [Kowall] go; the reason why I began to dislike soccer was because of [Kowall]. It’s time for a new lifestyle for the team and a new coach to help the team become better in every way and angle in,” Redington said.

“He has been there for five years, endured a lot of emotions and didn’t really get the support he needed to take the team where he wanted it to go. There comes a time when one must make a hard decision, and leaving a place where one has built roots and it is one of the hardest decisions a person can make,” Elmore said.  “It’s emotional, stressful, and it endures a lot of thought. Whether it was now, five years from now, or ten years from now [Kowall] would leave one day. He was obviously led to make the decision now rather now than later. We all have to make tough life decisions, and if we made them based on everyone else’s feelings we would never find true happiness.”

The UIS women’s soccer will continue their spring season without a coach.

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