New Marquette women’s soccer assistant coaches Steve Bode and Erin Scott have similar coaching philosophies as head coach Frank Pelaez.
“I really wanted to take my time with (the staff). Nothing was premeditated,” Pelaez said. “It was more of finding the right beliefs, right people who believe in what I believe in and (who are) not identical to me.”
Earlier this offseason when asked what he was looking for in candidates, Pelaez said he wants “people who have passion, intensity and are motivated to make (the) women better.”
With the hirings of Bode and Scott, Pelaez said he accomplished that goal.
“I have hit it bullseye, and then I added a bonus because they are such great role models,” Pelaez said. “They do have the passion and intensity. … They want to share their experiences and care about each other, the staff, the team and the school.”
Bode returns to the Milwaukee area after spending the 2019 season as a men’s soccer assistant coach at Loyola University Chicago. Pelaez and Bode’s connection goes back to Bode’s playing days at Marquette University High School.
“Steve and I have been friends for a long time,” Pelaez said. “I saw him grow up at Marquette High. Steve is a special person who keeps in touch with a lot of people who he cares for and has great knowledge and passion for soccer for such a young guy.”
Pelaez said it was a no-brainer to bring Bode on board.
“After we hung up I was like, ‘Gosh, he would be someone that with his personality would transition to the women’s game, he is very genuine and people can see that,'” Pelaez said.
For Bode, the chance to return to Milwaukee was an easy choice.
“I really have enjoyed it, getting my feet on the ground here,” Bode said. “It is great for my family. I grew up in Milwaukee. My wife’s family is here. We have two young kids here. Even outside of the coaching side at Marquette, from a family standpoint, it has been great.”
While Bode played his collegiate career at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Bode family name has a legacy at Marquette.
“Marquette is a place that I know well and have spent time at,” Bode said. “My two older brothers went here, my dad went here, my grandpa went here, so Marquette means a lot to me. So when this opportunity came up, it was special.”
Bode said another reason he joined the staff was the overlap in coaching philosophy between Pelaez and himself.
“Aside from having success and winning with the teams (Pelaez) has coached, he really cares about the student-athletes and about improving them as soccer players, but also as people,” Bode said. “That, for me, is in line with me and in line with my philosophy.”
Bode said he accomplishes that improvement by building relationships with players.
“It is rooted in how you can develop relationships with the players you coach and how they get to know you,” Bode said. “When you get to know them, you kind of know how they tick and what kind of buttons to push to get the best out of them.”
Marquette finished third in the BIG EAST last season in goals allowed with 33. As a former defender himself, Bode said becoming a stronger defensive team will be stressed this year.
“Defensively in the game of soccer overall, it is a game of mistakes,” Bode said. “So the more sound you can be defensively as a team not only in your backline but also throughout your whole team (the better). The team defensive mentality is very important.”
With the graduation of Emily Hess and Bri Jaeger from the backline, Bode sees an opportunity for players to set up and show their ability.
“It’s going to be a work in progress for sure,” Bode said. “Whenever you lose and graduate seniors in college … it is an opportunity for the younger players to come up and get more opportunities and minutes on the field.”
Meanwhile, Scott comes to Marquette after spending the 2019 summer season as a women’s graduate assistant coach at Valparaiso University.
Pelaez said he tried to bring Scott onto the Loyola staff two years ago and couldn’t, but still kept conversation with her.
“She loves the game, wants to learn and keep growing as a young coach,” Pelaez said. “At one point she was like, ‘What can I do to help you?’ because she really admired my vision, and that to me alone is enough said. She is someone who wants to do whatever it takes to help.”
For Scott, Pelaez stood out in many areas and has been someone she has admired.
“Frankie immediately stood out to me as one of those coaches that just has an ‘it’ factor to him,” Scott said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for what he has accomplished at other programs and here. The little things that he does on the field and the interactions he has with the team. … It is special to watch, and I just want to be around that to learn and be a part of it so we can get the most out of the girls.”
Marquette is not unfamiliar to Scott, as she spent her first two years of eligibility at BIG EAST opponent Creighton. As a Bluejay, she stopped 108 shots as a first-year in 2015, which is second-most in a single season in program history.
“It is definitely full circle in a way,” Scott said. “I will never forget the game that we played Marquette because the sprinklers went off on the field, but Marquette was always one of those schools we never knew would be an easy game. No game in the BIG EAST is easy for anyone.”
Even though each coach’s responsibilities have yet to be decided, Scott said she will be working with the goalkeepers.
Scott said the competition between first-year goalkeepers Mikki Easter and Mel McNamara has been great, as both continue to fight for the starting spot.
“They both understand they do have big shoes to fill,” Scott said. “I don’t think it is an intimidation factor, it is understanding you get to wear a name on the cross of your shirt and you are doing it because of people who have come before you.”
As a former goalkeeper, Scott said she believes she can help Easter and McNamara through her own experience.
“I am able to help them analyze situations because they are young, so in terms of game experience and seeing how things happen,” Scott said. “In the BIG EAST, it will take a lot of time to learn for them, but this spring has been great so far, and we are definitely going in the right direction.”
With one game of the spring season already in the books, Pelaez said players told him there was already a different feel among the team.
“I am bringing a staff that translates what I am trying to say in their own type of way, and then it rebounds off the team. I think it is going to be a lot of fun,” Pelaez said.
This article was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @JohnLeuzziMU.