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Coming home and giving back:

Former Eldred standout Jordan Lepes returns to coach girls soccer

By Richard Ross
Posted 9/3/21

ELDRED - “The meaning of life is finding your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

That quote, often attributed to William Shakespeare, is a maxim that if heeded, would augur …

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Coming home and giving back:

Former Eldred standout Jordan Lepes returns to coach girls soccer

Posted

ELDRED - “The meaning of life is finding your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

That quote, often attributed to William Shakespeare, is a maxim that if heeded, would augur a world characterized by greater sharing, equality, understanding and unselfishness.

Sadly though, far too many people who discover their gifts, often covet them to enhance their own lives instead of sharing them for the benefit of others. Thankfully, we all know people who do live by that pearl of wisdom.

Such is clearly the case when it comes to former Eldred three-sport standout Jordan Lepes, Class of 2017.

She is now returning to the place of her former glory to coach the girls soccer team with an eye not only towards rebuilding the program to its former greatness, but even more importantly establishing a milieu for young women that is positive in more respects than just being part of a winning team.

After graduating from Eldred, Lepes went on to earn a BSED-PE (Bachelor of Science in Education/Physical Education) from SUNY Cortland and is currently embarking on a Master’s Degree from SUNY Brockport in Health Education K-12 which she will pursue remotely.

Years often bring wisdom and perspective, and Lepes exudes both as she looks back on her sports career as a Lady Yellowjacket and forward to her coaching responsibilities.

Great Opportunity

When an opening for a full-time substitute teacher arose, along with a vacancy in the head girls soccer coaching position, Lepes jumped at the chance to return.

She always had the greatest regard for Athletic Director J.J Gass and so the opportunity was taken with unbridled enthusiasm. 

“Soccer was my favorite sport,” says the former basketball star and softball fireball hurler.

Lepes was always extremely competitive and as a teen, impatient with players whom she felt could have summoned more for the team effort. Success in soccer was expected during her high school years as Eldred reeled off Section 9 titles and entered the regional rounds hoping to advance.

A 1-0 loss to Bolton in 2016 was disappointing for the Lady Yellowjackets and was Lepes’ last game on the pitch for Eldred. An offensive standout, who along with Lynzee Kelty sparked Eldred’s scoring, Lepes knows she must now hone in on defensive drills for her players.

To wit, she has been watching YouTube videos, reading up on defenses and remembering what successful opponents threw against Eldred in those halcyon days that seem like a long time ago now. 

Fitness a Must

Setting an example, she participates in both the running and the soccer drills themselves and models what she expects her players to strive for in those trying repetitive sessions.

They all involve passing, dribbling and pushing the ball to the outside. Assisted by former boys’ soccer coach Joshua Santoro, Lepes is excited about the prospects for making a difference. Santoro is available as Eldred will not field a boys’ team this fall.

Together, they will marshal a great coaching effort. They both enjoy great rapport with the players and bring a repository of knowledge to the task. Coming back to Eldred was a bit strange though, Lepes admits.

“It seems a lot smaller,” she observes. And of course it’s strange to see girls who she remembers in the Mackenzie Elementary School, now among the high school ranks and running up and down the soccer field.

Lepes has organized two-a-day practices in anticipation of the team’s home opener against daunting S.S. Seward on Tuesday, September 7.

The morning session is all running while the afternoon session runs from 4:30-7 p.m. with a potential half hour added if the team’s efforts in the morning are not up to her expectations.

Numbers are down and unlike her playing days at Eldred, there will be few subs available. That ramps up the need for conditioning, which Lepes understands in the foundation for soccer success. She tells her team – that has quite a few three-sport athletes – that what they are doing now for soccer will benefit their winter and spring sports endeavors.

More importantly, Lepes understands the importance of fitness for health in the long term and hopes to build a lifelong inclination for such in the girls she mentors.

There for Her Team

Lepes also recognizes that teenage years can be difficult emotionally and she wants her team to know that she is there for them, to listen, be compassionate and if possible, to advise or refer to her young charges, letting them know they are not alone.

Players who look back on their successful careers will often reference a coach who really impacted their life as well as their game.

Lepes will be one of those.

Finally, Lepes seeks to build an ironclad team chemistry where everyone works together. Teams that rely too heavily on one person not only put undue pressure on that individual, they hurt their own chances by allowing opponents to key in on that player.

Players also need to feel the sisterhood involved in team play. Spats, friction, jealousy and resentment have no place in team building.

Eldred girls soccer was indeed a dynasty during Lepes’ tenure. Small schools run in cycles as standouts graduate and the team goes into rebuilding mode. Covid didn’t help matters as last fall was postponed and though games were played in the early spring, it wasn’t the same.

Lepes hopes to rebuild the enthusiasm that used to bring hordes of fans to the games to cheer on the Lady Yellowjackets. Look for coverage of Eldred’s opener vs. S.S. Seward in the September 9 issue of the paper.

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