Karli Kopietz has lived between the pipes for almost her whole life. Punching out saves and leading the Bison on the field was her specialty… until now. The once Division 1 Independent Defensive Player of the Year has returned to her alma mater in hopes of injecting life back into the Bison soccer program from the sidelines.
High School: Champlin Park (MN)
Position: Goal Keeper
Playing Career: University of Minnesota (2002-04); NDSU (2005-06)
Accolades: Minnesota’s Most Valuable Defensive Player (2002); Division 1 Independent Defensive Player of the Year (2005)
We got a chance to get an exclusive interview with Coach Kopietz and here is what transpired…
BI: You were a heck of a goalkeeper during your career at the University of Minnesota. How did you end up coming to NDSU?
Karli Kopietz: “Minnesota got a new coach and we just didn’t see eye to eye. She was taking the program in a different direction and my role had been changed and I still wanted that old role so I decided to go to a different place. … NDSU was the closest place I could go and not have to sit out a year and still play D-1.”
BI: What are some of the things that Coach Cook has done that are different from when you played for Coach Cuadrado?
KK: “The program is still pretty much the same, still very family oriented approach. … Pete (Cuadrado) played very direct, wanted to hit people in the mouth and be very physical. Cook is more of a knock the ball around the park, possess the ball. … The program runs itself well on the other side too. We have great girls and a good sports staff and all that.”
BI: What do you think you can bring to the soccer program?
KK: “I think I can bring a lot of experience because not only have I played college soccer, but I have played here. I know the tradition and I know what the athletic program expects and I think I can tie that in with the girls that are coming in to the program and instill that Bison Pride in every one of our girls. I’m a very lead-by-example person. I was a vocal player and now I’m a vocal coach. I really try and drive kids, to motivate them because as a goalie that’s what you have to do on the field. So as a coach, I think that is my role on the coaching staff. Cook and Chris are the more reserved ones and kind of see the game and manage play where I am more to do with the goal keepers and managing the girls during the games and making sure we know what’s on the line.”
BI: You were once a goalie and now you coach the goalies. Why is that position so unique than any other on the field?
KK: “It’s a stressful position, but it’s also a fun stress. You gotta have the mentality to come up big in any given moment because sometimes you don’t see the ball or you only see it once. One shot and you only get one chance at it the entire game so you need to be mentally tough, but you also need to be a leader. You see the whole field so you do a lot of organizing and game management so you really want to make sure you know what’s going on and staying connected to the game at all times.”
BI: What are some of your personal goals for this season?
KK: “I’m really just going to try to dive in and I want to make myself into the best coach I possibly can to make sure I’m helping in making the program successful. At the end of the day, we want to win. That’s the main goal as a coach, but I want to make sure our girls also feel that as well. Making them into good people by the time they leave this program and hopefully they were successful in the win-loss column as well. It’s just going to be diving in and really honing in on this coaching thing and hopefully we can start collecting hardware here because that would be a step in the right direction.”