Passion is a word Loyola women’s soccer associate head coach Franky Pelaez would use to describe not only his life, but his four years at Loyola.
Pelaez’s journey started in Cartagena, Colombia, where he grew up playing soccer. Pelaez said in Cartagena, the culture is full of aspiration in everything they do and it’s where he learned how to live his life fully and focus on the moment.
“I come from a country where if you don’t talk, you don’t get anywhere,” Pelaez said. “Passion fuels the drive to talk and to succeed.”
Pelaez brings passion to the game of soccer no matter where. He played collegiate soccer at University of North Carolina Asheville and wanted to show his love of soccer to others. Pelaez coached both boy’s and girl’s soccer at A.C. Reynolds High School in Asheville, North Carolina. After that, he began a 19-year coaching stint at Marquette University.
At Marquette, Pelaez built the soccer program with his college roommate, Markus Roeders. Together, they led the Golden Eagles to nine Big East Conference regular season championships, five Big East titles, two Big East Tournament Championships and a pair of Conference USA Tournament titles. But Pelaez said he wasn’t in it for the trophies.
“We were just two guys who loved soccer and said ‘Let’s make this a home,’” Pelaez said. “‘Let’s do it for a year and see what happens.’ We won and won, and we kept winning.”
After his time at Marquette, Loyola women’s soccer head coach Barry Bimbi brought Pelaez to Rogers Park. The two worked together at Marquette from 2002-2006 and Bimbi said they’re now close friends.
“To come to work every day and be able to work with one of your best friends is pretty cool,” Bimbi said. “I met Frank back in 2002, so we have a long relationship. This is now year four that we’ll be working together [at Loyola] and it’s been a great experience.”
Pelaez started as an assistant coach for the Ramblers, but he was promoted to associate head coach in May. Bimbi said he wanted to allow him the experience of having the title, because it allows for more future coaching opportunities.
“Administrators look at [the title] ‘Oh, you’re just an assistant coach,’” Bimbi said. “It carries a different weight if you are associate head coach. So, I thought it was important for him to have the title.”
Pelaez said he isn’t going anywhere for now. He said Loyola has been a home for him and he’s grateful Bimbi brought him to the program.
“If it happens, it happens, but it has to be the right place and the right time, right people, right university,” Pelaez said. “I have to surround myself with the right people. At the end of the day, if you want to say I’m looking for the right spot? I might feel like I’m in a really good spot right now.”
He said Loyola has been a place where athletes full of passion come to play and he wants to be a part of their development. Coaching at Loyola has allowed Pelaez to continue his passion for soccer and pass on his love for the game to the players.
“I love the game. I love teaching the game because I think it’s part of life,” Pelaez said. “I want to teach these [student-athletes] how to improvise in life and improvise on the field. I want them to work extremely hard because if they work hard they’re going to get something out of it.”
Pelaez has touched the lives of many players at Loyola, according to senior midfielder Madison Kimball. Pelaez said he’s even been invited to a couple weddings for former players because of how big of a role he played in their lives.
“He’s a very motivational guy,” Kimball said. “He likes to really develop deep relationships with each of his players and connect on a different level with each player. He really cares about us.”
Kimball said Pelaez dives into life while coaching. Since he has those deep relationships, it allows the players to trust him and listen to his advice.
“He tries to give us lessons on the field that apply to us off the field,” Kimball said. “Of course he helps with the skills, but he does it in a way that we can take it off the field and apply it to life. So, it’s not just soccer. It’s life coaching as well.”