From Braden Konschuh, University of Regina
REGINA – University of Regina Director of Sport, Community Engagement & Athlete Development Lisa Robertson announced Thursday morning that Astrid Baecker has been named the head coach of the Cougars women’s soccer team.
Baecker, an alumna of the Cougars program, served as the U of R’s interim co-head coach this season and helped lead the team to a 7-4-1 record and a postseason appearance. The team’s total of seven wins stands as the second most in a single season in program history.
“Astrid is a talented coach and a wonderful person and I couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome her as our head soccer coach,” Robertson said. “She epitomizes so many of the qualities we look for in a leader and I’m excited to see what the future holds for our women’s soccer team under her guidance.”
Baecker looks forward to taking the reins of a squad that expects to return almost all of its key contributors from the highly successful 2021 campaign.
“My excitement is honestly with the players right now,” Baecker said. “This group of young women have been so adaptable and have handled so many challenges thrown their way over the past two years – COVID and learning to live in a changed world, the disappointment of having a season cancelled, their longtime head coach stepping down, learning to thrive in a co-head coach environment, going through the hiring process of a head coach, and now moving forward with a new head coach. I’m grateful to move forward with this wonderful group of players and to have the opportunity to continue to work alongside the amazing staff in the Faculty of Kinesiology & Health Studies.”
“I love this team and to have been offered the position of head coach feels like a dream come true,” Baecker added. “I know how fortunate I am and I’m incredibly thankful for the support I have received in my coaching journey. I’ve spent nearly 30 years coaching in our amazing province and have been blessed with opportunities, funding, and programming offered by Sask Sport, the Saskatchewan Soccer Association, the Coaches Association of Saskatchewan, and many national organizations. I’ve also received incredible support from Queen City United Soccer Club over the past 12 years to continue challenging myself in new roles and in new coach education opportunities.”
One of Regina’s most recognizable faces in youth sports thanks to her extensive coaching experience in the city, Baecker has been the full-time grassroots lead for Queen City United Soccer Club since 2018 and has years of coaching under her belt at the club, provincial, high school, and U SPORTS levels. Her long list of accolades is headlined by being named the Saskatchewan Soccer Association’s Grassroots Coach of the Year in 2013 and the SSA’s Youth Coach of the Year in 2014.
Originally from Regina, Baecker attended Usher Collegiate and started out her post-secondary playing career at the College of the Southwest in Hobbs, N.M. where she spent two seasons playing NAIA soccer with the Mustangs. She transferred home to the U of R when it started the women’s soccer program, playing for the Cougars in 2001, 2002, and 2003 – the program’s first three seasons as an interuniversity program.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my Mom (Linda) who has taught me that kindness and gratitude can cure anything and my Dad (Udo) who blazed a trail in this province and sport that his tracksuit-wearing and ponytailed daughter could clumsily go down,” Baecker said. “And also to thank my fiancé (Lee) and son (Atlund) who have taught me that being a mother has been one of the greatest experiences I could have in my life. And thanks so much to my amazing network of friends and coaches who have relentlessly supported me and pushed me to be better throughout the years, including a special thank you to Coach McCaffrey who went on an amazing coaching adventure with me for the past six months that provided so many rich learning opportunities.”
Baecker becomes the fourth head coach in the history of the Cougar program. She follows Mike Hudson (2001-02), Jason Jones (2003-06), and Bob Maltman (2007-19). Last season, Baecker coached alongside fellow interim co-head coach Rob McCaffrey, who was a longtime assistant coach for the Cougars under Maltman.
“I’d like to thank Rob for stepping up to form a coaching tandem with Astrid that worked exceptionally well under these COVID-19 circumstances this past year,” Robertson said. “He has been a huge part of the Cougars for the past decade and it’s no coincidence that some of the program’s best seasons have come with him as a huge part of the staff.”
Baecker will finalize her coaching staff for the 2022 season over the next few weeks.
- T. Bennett