Soccer is more than a game to CWU’s new head women’s soccer coach


Courtesy of CWU Athletics

Evan Couch, Staff Reporter

After searching through an extensive pool of candidates looking to fill the head coach spot for CWU women’s soccer, the athletic department landed on Lindsey Lee to lead the program on Dec. 31. 

The first-time collegiate head coach expressed her excitement for this upcoming opportunity. 

“My biggest goal has always been to have my own program,” Lee said. “So it’s exciting I get to do it here at Central.” 

Although the task of leading a college program as a head coach may be new, Lee said the game and her knowledge comes naturally because soccer runs in her family. Lee explained that soccer has been a major part of her life.

“I grew up going to the soccer field and watching my parents play co-ed, that’s what we did on Saturdays,” Lee said. 

Attending and participating in weekend games with family friends was a regular occurrence for Lee’s parents. As a family, soccer was their chosen sport. 

For Lee, soccer was also more than just something she grew up with; it is deeper than that.

“Soccer is just in my blood,” Lee said. “My parents both played in college, and my mom played professionally.” 

Lee’s father, Randy Smith, played as a goalie for California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) where Lee would eventually go on to coach as an assistant for seven years before coming to CWU.

Lee’s mother, Karrie Keebler, played center back for Santa Clara University and the U.S. Women’s National Team. Keebler did a tour in China in the ’80s with the U.S. National Team as well.

Growing up, Lee played all over the field in terms of positions. Lee said she had a similar build to her father athletically, as well as the mannerisms of a goalie. However, she said she had the drive and competitiveness of her mother. 

Lee went on to play at the collegiate level and was a goalkeeper at Westmont College, where she would compete for a national championship her senior year.

During the adversity of being down two goals in the semi-finals, Lee said there was a moment of realization she carries with her into coaching to this day. 

“It wasn’t about individuals, it wasn’t about the negative things that you did,” Lee said. “It was about how we are going to do it together.”  

Westmont went on to win in the semi-finals and advanced to the national championship, where they lost to Concordia University.

Lee said no matter what the outcome was, as a team she knew that her teammates would always have her back and she would have theirs. It was the community within the team that she cherished.

“I see the game as so much more of a communal piece,” Lee said. “In all reality, we get to create an environment that we enjoy.” 

Creating a positive environment and being involved with a good culture is what Lee saw in CWU.

“Culture is the biggest piece of coaching,” Lee said. “As a coach, you strive to have good culture and positive energy.” 

Lee explained that CWU is a great place to build and work with an already existing culture. A lot of what she saw at Cal Poly as an assistant coach is what she sees at CWU as the head coach.

“Having the girls that have the attitude and have the backing of the athletic department and the backing of the school was a huge selling feature for me,” Lee said.

Athletic Director Dennis Francois was involved in the hiring process of Lee. Francois explained that Lee’s previous success as a player and an assistant coach made a great impression on the Athletic Department.

“She has experienced winning,” Francois said. “She knows what that feels like, she knows what that looks like and what it takes to get there.” 

Francois said that her experience as a player at a high level is a great way to make connections with players currently in the program. Along with the player experience and connection Lee brings, Francois said that Lee’s goal to push players with a competitive edge in the program to be better students and better people also stood out during her interview. 

“She is going to push those student athletes,” Francois said. “She’s highly competitive, she is going to push those student athletes beyond what they’re capable of and that’s where they are going to grow.”

Francois said one thing that blew him away was Lee’s sense of confidence.

“She had a sense of confidence in herself,” Francois said. “It wasn’t in a braggadocious way, it was a humble, confident way and she knows what it’s going to take. I am 100% confident she is going to do an outstanding job for us.”