New Jersey's Margot Ridgeway & Live Oak's Leslie Fregoso sign with UC Davis
"It is an absolute joy for us to welcome Rachael to UC Davis. She comes from a championship club environment, and a college program that is very near and dear to me," said Head Coach Twila Kaufman upon the announcement of Collins’ hire. "I was involved in her recruitment to Pepperdine, coached her during her freshman year, and have enjoyed watching her from afar ever since. It is a dream come true to work with her now; we are excited to be part of her first step as a coach, and are thrilled that she will mentor our players."
Added Collins, "I am honored and unbelievably excited to work with UC Davis' women's soccer program, and for an incredible head coach in Twila Kaufman. This team has a plan and a vision, I am eager to contribute to its growth and development. There is something special about creating positive, joyful and competitive culture on a team, and I look forward to helping everyone continue building this on and off the field."
Collins played a key role in the Waves' on-field success after immediately earning a spot in the starting lineup during her freshman season. It was her two-way play as a midfielder that led Pepperdine to multiple NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Sweet 16 berth during the 2014 season.
The Littleton, Colo., native truly led by example on and off the field, which is why Pepperdine selected her as a Maurice Hilliard Award recipient. Named after the school's late athletic chaplain, this prestigious honor is received annually by a student-athlete that exemplifies the attributes of Christian faith, character and leadership.
Collins also earned West Coast Conference Commissioner's Honor Roll, WCC All-Academic Honorable Mention and Scholar-Athlete accolades throughout her undergraduate career.
Shortly after the 2016 season concluded, Collins joined Pepperdine's Sports Medicine unit as an undergraduate athletic medical intern, which provided valuable hands-on experience for her since she holds a bachelor's degree in sports medicine.
Added Kaufman, "A colleague once told me after playing us during Rachael's freshmen year that they imagined she was the spitting image of me as a player. I told them that I took that as a huge compliment because she was a significantly better midfielder than I ever was. One of Rachael's roles here is to paint the picture of what a complete midfielder looks like, through coaching and personal demonstration."
The Aggies' assistant also possesses five years of playing experience with the Colorado Rush Soccer Club, an organization based in Littleton. Throughout that timespan, Collins started for the Rush Women's W-League team, trained, competed alongside, and against a field of players that continued their careers at the Division I level.
"Rachael was on one of the best teams in the country as a youth player and will no doubt be able to recruit elite players for us. Most importantly, she will help this program's culture evolve by finding student-athletes who possess similar core values. She has all the makings of an awesome recruiter," said Kaufman.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING...
"Rachael Collins epitomizes all one would want in a student-athlete. She will make an immediate positive impact on the women's soccer program through her character, integrity and work ethic."
"So excited for the opportunity that Twila has given Rachael! First of all, She will be another amazing role model for the young women of UC Davis' soccer program! In addition, Rachael has one of the highest soccer IQs that has come through our program in a long time. Despite her lack of physical height, she played a massive role in midfield for us last fall as we won the West Coast Conference championship! I liken her to a maestro, as she was a brilliant midfielder for us as she was often charged with controlling the tempo and speed of the Pepperdine's "orchestra" if you will. Finally, she's a warrior and a champion! She knows what it's like to have to navigate adversity as her Pepperdine journey has not always been easy! But her attitude and effort through it all has been brilliant and selfless! It's ultimately why she has achieved the things she has! And it's also why I think she will be such a wonderful role model and coach at the next level!"
Head Women's Soccer Coach
"What a great hire by Twila and UC Davis! I've known Rachael since a young age, having coached her with Colorado Rush. Rachel was an outstanding youth and collegiate player and is an even more incredible person. I'm so excited for her! This is an incredible opportunity for Rachel to learn from one of the best young female coaches in the game!"
Head Women's Soccer Coach
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