Goalie-turned-coach an asset to WKU soccer team

M. Blake Harrison

Three years after walking away from the game she’d played for 16 years, Leslie King is now a soccer coach.

But the graduate assistant under Head Coach Jason Neidell didn’t plan it that way.

“I never wanted to be a coach, and I don’t really foresee myself being a coach in the future,” King said.

King played three years as a goalie at Morehead State — where she still sits atop the career leader board in saves, wins and goals-against average — before she decided it was time for a new direction in life.

After finishing her undergraduate degree at Morehead, she enrolled at WKU in the fall of 2009 to pursue a master’s degree in health care administration.

With junior goalkeeper Libby Stout dealing with some injuries, WKU had a glaring need for a fill-in.

Enter Leslie King. 

Neidell approached King about playing for WKU, and King considered it carefully. King said because she loved the atmosphere around the team and knew it needed help, she accepted an athletic scholarship and utilized her final year of eligibility.

King started four of the eight games she played in and recorded two shutouts — one being a win over North Texas on senior day.

Neidell said he “didn’t want to cut her off” after one season, so King agreed to stay with the team as a graduate assistant until she finishes her master’s in the spring.

King has been a valuable asset to the program, and she approaches everything she does with professionalism, Neidell added.

 “She’s got that direct line of communication with the players,” he said. “She can go back and forth and help us in that regard.”

Stout said King has “a lot to offer,” and she kept her sharp last season.

“She definitely made me better, and I’ve never really played against competition before,” Stout said. “She was definitely a good person to have with me, and she helped me learn a lot about the position.”

King said she walks a thin line at times while trying to be both a friend and coach.

Though that aspect of her job can be tough, she said it’s nice to be able to relay messages to both players and other coaches when need be.

“There are a lot of challenges, but it’s also really cool because I played with all the girls,” she said. “I just feel like I’m really that liaison between the coaching staff and players.

“It can be hard, but I try not to step over that line. I just do what I can to help.”