Kalli Schwehr may be new to her position as the Cottage Grove Lions girls soccer coach, but she is certainly a familiar face in the community. Schwehr went from playing sports through South Valley Athletics (SVA) as a kid to being a Lion herself. She graduated from Cottage Grove High School in 2014.
“When I was in middle school, we didn't have enough girls to play [soccer], so I played on the boys’ team; I grew up with all the guys; I was also playing with my little brothers and all that. When I got to high school, I started playing on club teams. Actually, as an eighth grader, my parents thought they should acclimate me to playing with girls again, so I started playing on a girl’s club team. Then, in high school, I played varsity [soccer] all four years,” Schwehr said.
During her senior year of high school, Schwehr was injured in a car accident and was unable to try out for many college programs. She went on to attend Western Oregon University.
“I was able to try out for one (college team), and I made it on the team. But then, after everything… I wanted to focus on school; so, I went to college at Western Oregon University,” Schwehr said. “There, I played ball recreationally and played with a lot of friends. I played with guys who played on the mens soccer team, which was really fun. Since then, I've coached for SVA, and I've done some individual coaching with some girls who are actually going to be on the team this year.”
Schwehr was named the Lions head coach in June. In July, the team began summer conditioning and workouts. Workouts are held Monday through Thursday, each evening. Schwehr says enthusiasm around the program is high.
“I think the challenging thing has just been to kind of figure out where to start because of that enthusiasm. We've got a lot of girls who maybe haven't played before or have played but it's been a long time. Then they are paired with girls who are playing on club teams right now, so finding that balance is tough, where I can challenge both sets of girls. But it's been incredibly rewarding at the same time to challenge myself in that way in my coaching abilities and then in and in my abilities to bring together a team, a unit.”
Schwehr is taking over a Lions girls soccer program that went 1-10 overall last season (1-7 in the Sky-Em league) and will be looking for much improvement over the next couple of months. The Lions season opener is September 7 at Philomath High School. Their home opener will be the next day against Stayton High School at 7 p.m.
“I've kind of done everything in my life around [coaching] in some form or another, everything I've done has either been around teaching or tutoring or coaching or helping somebody learn something new in some aspect. So, I really liked the idea in general of helping people foster a new level of something. And I feel like the best place I can do that is with the thing that I love the most,” Schwehr added.