Colleen Boyd always showed grit and a competitive spirit when she played for the La Cañada High School girls’ soccer team from 2004-2008.
Her toughness earned her Rio Hondo League most-valuable-player honors when she was a senior — a year after she was judged the league’s outstanding defensive player — and it’s also helped her land the biggest job in her life.
After years working as an assistant coach, the 2008 LCHS graduate was recently hired to take the reins of the University of Wyoming’s women’s soccer program.
“It’s pretty cool,” Boyd said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “[My husband and I] are super excited to be here.”
Tom Burman, the university’s director of athletics, shared the same enthusiasm in having Boyd as head coach after the Cowgirls finished 2-7 this past season.
“She will bring a renewed energy to the team and brings great enthusiasm to our student-athletes,” he said in a statement. “Boyd brings a tremendous amount of experience in her days as an All-American at Oregon State, a professional player and as an assistant and associate head coach. She will make being a Cowgirl a great college experience for our student-athletes.”
After helping LCHS win two Rio Hondo championships under the guidance for legendary head coach Louie Bilowitz, Boyd went on to play Division I soccer at Oregon State. As a goalkeeper, she made the All-Pac-10 Conference first team and recorded a school-record 14 shutouts as a junior in 2010, when she also was a third-team All-American.
After such a stellar campaign, Boyd realized that soccer was part of her identity and began coaching youth teams in Corvallis, Oregon.
“I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to get out of soccer,” Boyd said. “Coaching is so much bigger than wins and losses, and it’s a big reason why I got into it. I want to have the same impact on young women as my coaches had on me. To be able to help people through soccer is pretty cool.”
Boyd, 31, graduated from Oregon State in 2012 and played two season of professional soccer in New York and Boston. She then joined the Cal State Northridge women’s soccer coaching staff in 2014 and worked with the goalkeepers. Boyd made an immediate impact, guiding the Matadors to a combined 15 shutouts in two seasons after the team had recorded only two in 2013.
That success carried over to her stint at James Madison University, where Boyd helped the Dukes lead the league in shutouts during the regular season in her first season as associate head coach.
In 2016, Boyd was selected for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America 30 Under 30 program, an initiative that gives young coaches exposure to mentorship and an opportunity to take advantage of educational offerings.
After three years at JMU, Boyd jumped on the opportunity to move back west and become a head coach, following in the footsteps of her late grandfather Bob Boyd, who coached the USC men’s basketball program for 13 years while John Wooden coached at UCLA.
After a visit to the Wyoming campus and facilities for an interview that lasted nearly the entire day, Boyd knew it was a perfect fit.
“I met a lot of the girls when I came on the interview, which was pretty unique,” Boyd said. “I was there all day and talked to a million people. The turning point was when I was walking out of the conference room and feeling like, ‘Wow, these kids are striving for leadership and really wanted a female head coach.’ Though it is more prevalent, it’s still very hard to consistently find female coaches across the country. They were excited about having a new face and a new vision.”
The University of Wyoming in Laramie is the only public four-year institution in the state, which reminds of her of hometown.
“Everyone knows everyone and helps each other out. It’s great to have a fan base here that spreads across the state,” Boyd said. “There’s a lot of pride that comes with being alumni here and going to school here. To step into an environment like that is pretty special. It’s really a small college town, similar to La Cañada.”
Boyd has already assembled an all-female coaching staff and will begin working with athletes in a few weeks. Her first order of business is to build a relationship with the players to earn their trust.
“I really harp on relationships. I don’t think you’re able to get the best out of people, whether staff, players or administrators, unless you really take the time to build a relationship,” she said. “In college, I got pushed in ways I had never been challenged before, but I knew the coaches wanted what was best for me. They cared.
“Winning is always the goal, but first and foremost is winning the trust of the players and giving them an environment that is positive and competitive. When doing that, wins will start to come.”
Boyd also has another goal in mind.
“I want other teams in the Mountain West [Conference] to absolutely hate to play us,” Boyd said. “We’re sitting at just over 7,200 feet in elevation and trying to breathe while playing soccer is really hard. We want intensity and to run people into the ground and to understand our identity as a program. … We don’t ever want to be perceived as soft or not working hard. We want to set the tone.”