Pelaez feels he ‘never left’ Valley Fields upon return

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Frank Pelaez coaching his team from the sidelines. (Photo Courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

When Frank Pelaez was offered the opportunity to return as head coach where his collegiate coaching career started as an assistant, there was only one word to describe it: surreal.

“It was never orchestrated to be this way, but I felt in my heart that I never left. It is exciting, it is scary,” Pelaez said. “Every day is like the first day for me right now.”

Pelaez returns to Milwaukee and Marquette coming off five seasons at the Loyola University Chicago as an associate and assistant coach for Barry Bimbi.

The Cartagena, Colombia, native wants to instill a culture of pride and passion and respect for what they are doing and for each other.

It is about caring for yourself and the people around you. There has to be trust among the coaching staff and among the players, and once that is established, the sky is the limit,” Pelaez said. 

He is taking over a program that has not seen a change at the top of the helm since 1996 when former head coach Markus Roeders was given the keys to the program.

Despite going a combined 10-22-4 (5-10-3 BIG EAST) over the last two years and missing the BIG EAST Tournament during that stretch, Pelaez had a simple message to the team at his introductory meeting with those results in the back of everyone’s minds.

“I told the team I want them to have a fresh start, a clean slate,” Pelaez said. “I think my main goal this year for them is to work extremely hard, work for each other and enjoy playing soccer. From there, we will be able to look at other stuff. I want them to have the best experience.”

Pelaez himself plans on coming in with a fresh mind he said as he knows what Marquette stands for as a whole and what student-athletes it caters.

“I am going to treat them all the same, I think we win in numbers,” Pelaez said. 

The 2020 season will be the first time in four years that the program’s all-time saves leader Maddy Henry and two big piece defenders Emily Hess and Bri Jaeger will not be donning the blue and gold. Despite all of this, the first-year head coach doesn’t see this as a barrier.

I try to avoid the word challenge because I look at it, not as a challenge but an opportunity,” Pelaez said. “Marquette has given me an opportunity, so I want them to have an opportunity. Everything will be positive and straight up.”

The University of North Carolina-Asheville graduate plans to maintain a strong nonconference schedule.

Marquette has always played a very good non-conference schedule. I plan to keep that going since I believe you only get better by playing some of the best,” Pelaez said. 

There is still one key task Pelaez needs to do: construct a coaching staff.

Pelaez did not say if Nick Vorberg, an assistant coach on Roeders’ staff, will remain in his position. But he said he has kept in touch with him. Former assistant coach Ashley Bares will not be on Pelaez’s staff as she was named an assistant coach at Iowa State University Jan.17.

“It will still be a little bit of a process,” Pelaez said. “Everything I do, I want it to be best for this team. This team needs something to be inspired again to do great things.”

Pelaez wants his next coaching staff to elevate the program to the next level.

“I want to surround myself with people who have passion, intensity and are motivated to make (the) women better,” Pelaez said. 

 

This story was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at john.leuzzi@marquette.edu and on Twitter @JohnleuzziMU.