Behind the success of every team is a great coach. It can sometimes be a position that is often overlooked when a team, or a specific athlete in particular has a breakout season, but the success of any athlete or any team comes down to the strength of the coaching staff. For the University of Utah women’s track and field team, that coach is Kyle Kepler.
Sometimes, coaches are drawn into coaching because it is a family affair. Some coaches have parents, uncles or aunts or other relatives who were involved in coaching athletics, and they simply follow suit.
“Absolutely not,” Kepler said emphatically when asked if he came from a coaching family. “My family wasn’t much of the athletic type. My parents didn’t really run or do any of that. My parents were always supportive of my involvement in athletics though, and they were always there for every meet.”
Kepler’s journey into the world of coaching actually started for him in high school.
“I started coaching in high school, but it was a little different,” Kepler said. “I competed in all different kinds of sports, but I also coached younger kids. I was a volunteer coach for a lot of different sports. That’s when I found out how much I enjoyed coaching.”
Kepler added that he enjoys coaching because of how much you get to teach others and see them succeed. Kepler says the transition for him was quite natural, almost as if he knew that moving into coaching was what he was meant to do. Believe it or not, but Kepler also has a minor in coaching from Northern Iowa University.
Every coach has to start somewhere, and for Kepler that road was no different. Coming out of college, he volunteered for four years until he was added to a coaching staff full time.
“I did every odd job you could think of to make ends meet,” Kepler mentioned. “I volunteered for four years at Northern Iowa before they found a place for me. I loved it, because I got to help and teach so many athletes and see them succeed.”
Seeing athletes succeed is undoubtedly a desire for every coach in every sport, but Kepler personifies it a little differently than most. Junior Hannah McInturff had high praise for her coach.
“It’s been a while since I was recruited, but in that process, [Kepler] talked about individualizing plans for everybody,” McInturff said. “One of the biggest reasons why I’ve improved and had so much success is because [Kepler] was willing to let me cross train and let me do other things to build strength.”
McInturff also mentioned that coming out of high school she was dealing with various injuries, and she was impressed with how much Kepler saw in her.
“He recruits a lot on potential, and I think that says a lot about him as a coach,” McInturff said. “Some coaches won’t even take a chance on a girl with a lot of injuries or who maybe isn’t where she should be coming out of high school. Any coach can take a fast girl and make her faster, but he can take those girls who are on the borderline and make them a lot better.”
The Utes recently competed in the Stanford invitational, and while the season is still young for the track team, Kepler says he is proud of where the team is at and how well they have performed.
Coaching isn’t everything though, and there is one job in mind for Kepler if he weren’t a coach.
“I’d own the Chicago Cubs,” Kepler said with a laugh.