Friendly face on the basketball court builds a legacy to last a lifetime

Mary Athorp, Staff Reporter

Walking into the Wehr Center athletic offices will be sure to put anyone in a good mood as soon as they see Amber Peterson. Not only does Peterson’s friendly face provide a warm welcome, but her smile is only the surface of a plethora of personal accomplishments and community impact. 

Peterson is currently the head women’s basketball coach at Lakeland, and has been for the past three years. She has been coaching at Lakeland for about ten years total, mostly basketball, but with a couple years of golf as well. 

Peterson’s coaching career began back when she was a college student herself. She worked as a student assistant coach for a year until she moved up to Wisconsin from Georgia and began building her coaching legacy here at Lakeland. 

A love for coaching spawns from a love of sports, and that’s no different with Peterson. She is the youngest of four siblings, all of which were extremely involved in sports. Her sister played softball and her brothers played basketball. Like most younger siblings, Peterson wanted to be just like her brothers and sister and she says: “I basically had a ball in my hands since when I was born.” 

This early-on experience and natural talent cultivated Peterson’s love for the game and led her to her occupation today. When comparing her personal athletic career to her coaching career, Peterson notes the distinct difference between coaching and playing. When playing, it’s important to focus on individual performance. However, Peterson says: “As a coach you have to see everything and bring out the best in everybody else.” 

Coaching is a much more selfless domain, and Peterson certainly embodies that selflessness in everything she does. In fact, according to Peterson, the most fulfilling part of coaching isn’t winning trophies or championships. She says: “I love meeting a kid at…18 years old and then watching them grow throughout their four to five years here, and leave still very much themselves, but…a way more mature and…goal oriented and confident version of themselves”. 

Peterson’s love for her players is inspiring, and in turn fosters a truly beautiful team atmosphere on and off the court. When recalling some of her favorite team memories, this atmosphere is evident, not just in the team’s many wins and championships, but rather in the more ‘simpler moments’, such as practices and training sessions. In these ‘simple moments’, Peterson says: “It goes from being…a random group of people to…a family. I love seeing that”.

Even outside of coaching, Peterson continues to pursue personal connection and relationships. She is very active in her church, enjoys spending time with her friends and family, working out, and cooking. No matter what she’s up to though, she says: “People is still what it’s all about”. Peterson seems to have cracked the code to a healthy work and home life balance, in finding a career she is passionate about and engaging in an intentional lifestyle outside of work. 

It’s obvious that Peterson is a one of a kind coach. She is extremely grateful for the encouragement and love both the athletes and athletic staff give her. She says: “The support at Lakeland is just unique”. Peterson herself is unique in her ability to impact so many people and build up an incredible program. Lakeland is lucky to have her and the future waits in anticipation to see what other incredible things she will do.