Longtime Head Coach Colleen Bruley is heading into her 15th season coaching the New Paltz Women’s Soccer Team. With 101 victories under her belt, Bruley has brought the Hawks to the SUNYAC Tournament six times and last year brought the team to the conference title, earning a spot in the NCAA Div. III Women’s Soccer Championship Tournament.
She has coached 26 All-SUNYAC selections and two National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-Region players. Bruley has twice been named the SUNYAC Coach of the Year.
Her arsenal of experience can partially explain her success. Bruley discovered soccer at the age of seven and was the starting goalkeeper every game from then on.
“In high school I went to an overnight soccer camp in Lake Placid,” Bruley said. “That changed my life in so many ways. I then began working at the same camp as a goalkeeper assistant coach and that is where I began to learn about coaching. I remember one day a little boy calling me coach and I thought that was so cool.”
Bruley spent her college years at SUNY Canton and then SUNY Plattsburgh, playing as the starting goalkeeper for both schools. After graduating with a degree in Criminal Justice, she accepted an offer to be the goalkeeper coach for Skidmore College.
She married tennis Head Coach Robert Bruley, whom she met at the Lake Placid camp, and moved to his native England for several years. It was here where Bruley gained vital experience as a soccer player and coach.
“I was able to play and start in goal for the premier league women’s team, Millwall. I stayed there and then had a brief stint at Arsenal with their reserves,” Bruley said.
After traveling with Millwall, Bruley then played for her local English club, Sutton United.
She brought her playing experience back to New York when she applied for the Head Coach position at SUNY New Paltz. Her husband also gained a coaching position here at New Paltz as the tennis head coach, and both have been here since.
Upon arriving, Bruley looked at the state of the program and knew that she had her work cut out for her.
“[It was] Awful, I knew we had a lot of work to do,” said Bruley.
Since then, Bruley has developed the team into a program that is “disciplined and much more competitive with a strong recruiting process in place.”
“On the field we want them to be able to play a great possession game,” Bruley said. “We like short simple passes to move the ball forward. That is what makes the game beautiful.”
Fourth-year defender Emily Rokitowski said that with Bruley as head coach, her skill as a player has improved.
“Coach Bruley has definitely made me into a better player,” Rokitowski said. “She has also made me a more technical and accurate player. Ball work is a high priority for us, and having better foot skills allows me to see the field and read the game better.”
With the team she has now, Bruley looks back on when she started and said she admires how far the program has come. She said the team is particularly close and that all of them have one another’s backs.
“We are a family,” Bruley said. “We have goals that we could have never dreamed of when I started here. We have had some great players come through the program but never a full 11 who could actually play like the girls can this season.”