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Meet The Coach
Cepeda Uses Wilderness Therapy to Improve Coaching

To become a better coach, Anik Cepeda had to stop coaching.

Having been immersed in tennis from a young age, Cepeda had an itch to try something new and get outside of her comfort zone.

Anik Cepeda at Angels Landing in Zion National Park

She was serving as an assistant coach for the men’s and women’s programs at Williams College during the 2013-14 academic year, and approached head coaches Dan Greenberg and Alison Swain about her idea.

They encouraged her to step away, telling her the life experience she gained would only help Cepeda if she decided to return to coaching.

Cepeda became a senior field instructor at Evoke Wilderness Therapy in Utah, where she guided clients and led teams in backcountry living experiences for nearly two years.

She was off the grid, with no cell phone service to stay connected. Cepeda had to obtain special permission to use a satellite phone a few times if she wanted to reach family.

“I think the biggest piece I got out of that is about getting a better awareness of myself and awareness of others and the environment,” Cepeda said. “I really became curious about the behaviors of others and learned how to ask why and how come. My curiosity for human behavior in general developed there.”

Although she enjoyed the experience, Cepeda, 27, realized how much she missed tennis. She took a job as an assistant women’s coach at Marshall University in 2016.

Once Swain left Williams the following year to become the head coach at USC, Cepeda was hired as her replacement.

“Coaching is something meaningful in my life,” Cepeda said. “I think it has to do with feeling like you have a sense of purpose in mentoring and helping and supporting someone during this time of their life, and that I can hopefully be helpful in some way and that they can take an experience with them later on.”

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Page updated on Monday, November 04, 2019
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