On Thursday afternoon, Rebecca Mouw called a meeting of the Westmont women’s soccer team where she announced that she will not return for a fourth year as head coach.

“I feel really good about the consensus which (Athletic Director) Dave (Wolf) and I have come to,” Mouw said. “As I have been thinking about the past few months, I have been evaluating what I want to be doing with my life and where I want to be going. I feel at peace with the things that have come together to bring this decision to closure.”

Mouw took over the reigns of the women’s soccer program in 2005, posting a 35-16-7 record in three years and taking the Warriors to two national tournaments.

In her first season, Mouw led the Warriors to a 12-3-4 record and an appearance in the semifinals of the NAIA National Tournament in Olathe, Kan. In 2006, the Warriors finished second in the Golden State Athletic Conference standings with a 7-2-1 record and claimed a No. 11 national ranking at season’s end. Westmont advanced to the quarterfinals of the national tournament, losing to conference rival Azusa Pacific.

“Personally, I have loved being here at Westmont,” Mouw said. “I think I have grown a lot and learned a lot about myself, about God, about relationships and about group dynamics. I love the Westmont Athletic Department and have enjoyed being a part of it.”

As part of the mutual decision she reached with Westmont, Mouw has the opportunity to continue teaching in kinesiology for the 2008-09 school year. She will make a decision in the near future about remaining in that role.

“Part of this process for me has been looking back at my three years at Westmont, evaluating my strengths and weaknesses, and asking what kind of career path that would lead me down,” Mouw said. “I have come to a conclusion that I don’t have a strong desire to coach. So, I know I won’t be coaching, but I have no idea what I will be doing. I still love the teaching aspects. I’ll be getting married this summer and I feel like opportunities are wide open for me. I’m looking forward to a new start and re-evaluating what my strengths lead me toward.”

Mouw’s coaching legacy at Westmont includes taking her team on a memorable mission trip to Africa in the summer of 2006. The team visited Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, conducting soccer clinics, visiting a juvenile detention center, running with the “invisible children” of war-torn Gulu, serving in feeding programs in the slums of Kampala, worshiping with African churches, talking with survivors of the Rwandan genocide at the Genocide Museum in Kigali and, of course, playing soccer.

“Some of the most meaningful experiences for me were when we were able to travel as a team,” she said, “especially going to Africa and going to nationals. Obviously I learned a lot on the field, but I feel like the off-field experiences have been the most beneficial for me. The first trip to nationals was a good experience for me as a coach in terms of knowing what the atmosphere is like for collegiate athletes and what they have to go through to get to nationals.

“I feel really good about this decision and feel at peace.”

Ron Smith is Westmont College‘s sports information director.