When UVU hired a new head men’s basketball coach in 2019, the Wolverines brought in a candidate with name recognition as Mark Madsen, a former college and NBA star, got the job.
The university followed that same script Monday as it introduced its new head men’s soccer coach, Kyle Beckerman.
Beckerman may be one of the most well-known soccer figures in the country as he had a 21-year professional and international career before retiring in December of 2020. He spent 14 years playing for Real Salt Lake (including winning the 2009 MLS Cup) and had 58 caps as a member of the U.S. National Team.
His playing credentials are so impressive that in 2020 he was named one of Major League Soccer’s 25 Greatest Players of all-time.
But his coaching credentials?
Well, this is his first shot at building those as well.
UVU director of athletics Jared Sumsion introduced Beckerman at the press conference by saying: “When we were looking for a new head coach, we have the slogan here at UVU athletics that we are champions in the classroom, champions in competition, champions in the community and champions in life. When we found our new head coach, we knew exactly that he would continue to lead the legacy that we started. We are young program. We’ve amassed a great amount of wins in the seven years that we’ve been competing, and we’re in a place now where we’re going to take you to the next level with this new head coach.”
Beckerman said he had considered coaching when his playing career came to an end and this felt right to him.
“I’m really excited to be here today,” Beckerman said at Monday’s press conference in Orem where he was introduced. “It was going to take something really special for me to get out of retirement and take a job, and it was definitely unexpected. But when I learned about the position, about the college and spoke more with President (Astrid) Tuminez and Jared (Sumsion), I realized realized that this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
He believes the foundation is in place for him to be successful.
“This program is young but already has a solid footing and great support both from the school, the athletic department and the fans,” Beckerman said. “I’m looking forward to building on that foundation, and taking it to the next level. As a player, one of the most rewarding things and part of my job was helping and mentoring young players, seeing them grow. I’m excited now to take that as a full-time job and am extremely excited to get started.”
It was a quick process that brought Beckerman to Orem, as former head coach Greg Maas departed only a few weeks ago. Beckerman said he took some time in the process to watch the Wolverines in their final three games of the 2021 season.
“I’ve been watching their last three games but I’ve got a lot of work to do to research this team,” Beckerman said. “It wasn’t the most positive result but I saw a lot of positive things from this group. I saw a lot of fight. I saw a lot of bravery. I saw no quit in their play. And I saw some technical stuff that is at a high level. So I’m just going to try and take it up a notch, use the resources here that I would have liked as a player.”
He knows there will be some growing pains as he transitions from the world of professional and international soccer to the world of collegiate soccer coaching.
There’s definitely a lot of things I’m gonna have to learn,” Beckerman said. “I will learn what I don’t know right now, a lot of administrative stuff and getting organized as quick as possible. But I’m going to put in all the work into coaching like I did as a soccer player, try and get better each day. I think the sky is the limit for this university and for this program. The biggest thing I’ll tell these guys is that we’ve got to make sure our grades are correct so we can play soccer.”
He is optimistic about the role college soccer can have on the evolution of the sport in the United States.
“I think soccer in America is constantly changing,” Beckerman said. “It’s speeding up with our academies and younger players and the professional ranks kind of getting on the same level with Europe. I think we’re finding out colleges are another place where you can develop and you can make your dreams come true.”
Wolverine women’s and men’s soccer players honored by WAC
Utah Valley redshirt sophomore Jenna Shepherd, a former American Fork star, has been named the WAC Women’s Soccer Defensive Player of the Year. Shepherd becomes the fourth player in UVU history to earn the award.
Shepherd also earned First Team All-WAC honors for the first time in her career. She received Second Team All-WAC honors and WAC All-Freshman team honors last season.
She anchored the Wolverine defense to nine shutouts this season. Shepherd came in on numerous set pieces to produce offensive results. She has scored five goals this year on 13 shots.
Ten total Wolverine players received awards from the WAC, marking the most postseason honors that the team has ever earned.
In addition to Shepherd, senior midfielder Amber Tripp also earned First Team All-WAC honors. Senior goalkeeper Isabel Jones-Dawe, redshirt junior Sadie Brockbank, and sophomore Sydney Bushman were named second team all-WAC. Sophomore Heather Stainbrook and junior Julianna Carter received All-WAC Honorable Mention honors.
UVU defender Grace Beeston, forward London Miller, and midfielder Breanna Eves were each selected to the WAC’s All-Freshman team.
“I am very happy for our players that were recognized,” UVU head coach Chris Lemay said in the press release. “The players that were honored by the conference are well deserving. Heather Stainbrook is the engine of our team and I am disappointed that she did not get the first team recognition that she deserves. Our program and our team have never been about individual accolades, we are a team and we look forward to collectively competing in the upcoming tournament. We are hungry and we are ready.”
On the men’s side, Wolverine junior Jojea Kwizera was named to the All-WAC second team while junior Zahir Vazquez and freshman Alejandro Silva both received honorable mention All-WAC honors.