Gerry Steele
The Baker City Herald

By Gerry Steele

Kris Pepera takes over as the coach of the Baker girls soccer team this season, replacing DeeDee Clarke.

Pepera, who teaches social studies at Baker High School, played soccer in high school before switching to rugby in college.

He then played four years of post-college rugby.

He worked 10 years on a Forest Service fire crew, and coached and officiated youth sccer at Madras. He also was an assistant eighth grade football coach at Madras.

After coming to Baker, he served last year as an assistant cross country coach/middle school cross country coach.

Pepera welcomed 28 girls out for this year's program, half of which return from last year.

The Bulldogs field a young team, with only three seniors and two juniors on the roster.

"It's really a positive young group," Pepera said.

Erin Parker, Kailie Sells and Katie Vela are the returning seniors.

Other returning players are Tanya O'Neal, Rebekka Rushton, Molly McCrary, Lindsay Livingston, Gracie McCarrell, Eliza Rushton, Corrina Galbreath, Brie Sand, Megan Pintok, Sami Sexton and Analena Jimenez.

Pepera hasn't decided who will be his keepers. Last year's keepers both graduated.

"We'll have young keepers, and I'm still undecided about them," he said.

The Baker coach said the team strength is the experience gained in 25 summer practices.

"The positivity, enthusiasm, fitness," he said.

"We still need to work on our passing skills, and using the whole field."

Pepra's volunteer assistant coaches are Luke Coomer, Michael Johnson and Kristen Rushton.