Brenna Perez may be entering her first season as Walker High School’s girls soccer coach, but she isn’t lacking familiarity with the program after joining the Lady Cats as an assistant last season.
It’s because of her extensive background as a player and coach, Perez became a natural choice to replace outgoing coach Mike Lockhart.
“When we talked in November, I said I’m ready to make a change,” Perez said of her conversation with Lockhart. “He said, ‘come on, come finish the season out with us’, and then it kind of organically developed from that point. There really wasn’t any big decision to make a change. All the pieces just kind of fit together.”
Perez, who previously served as an assistant and head coach at Episcopal in Baton Rouge, was an all-district and all-parish goalkeeper at University Lab in Baton Rouge before playing collegiately at Southeastern.
After injuries derailed her playing career, Perez returned to U-High to begin her coaching career which included a stop of Episcopal for seven years, both as an assistant and a head coach.
In addition to her prep coaching career, Perez has served as an associate staff coach and adult league direct at Baton Rouge Soccer Club.
There was no pre-arranged agreement that Perez would succeed Lockhart when she joined the program, but after working with the team, became the obvious choice to follow Lockhart once he opted not to return.
Another factor in the change was Perez’s relationship with the players. She began teaching at Walker after the winter break where she formed a great relationship with her athletes after getting the opportunity to interact with them on a daily basis.
“When I came in in November, we immediately clicked,” Perez said. “The chemistry between the girls and I was great. They were eager to hear what I had to say and were eager to take coaching points from me. And we kept that momentum. The parents are incredibly supportive, the girls are hungry and want to win. They want to make Walker proud.”
Perez brings a more technical-based approach to the Lady Cats sideline and plans to utilize her two decades worth of coaching experience.
She wants Walker to become a more pass-orientated team and looks to improve upon her team’s ability to read, react, and predict what their opponents will do in a game.
“I come from a technical training background,” she said. “I put a lot of focus on the technique of playing soccer versus the tactical side.”
One of Perez’s first duties as head coach was to install a strength and conditioning program, something she feels can be a preventative measure against injuries.
“In order to have a good program, it has to be comprehensive,” Perez said. “It has to cater to the whole athlete. Their whole body, their nutrition, their strength and conditioning, injury prevention, all of those things.”