Coach Jen Dyson: Team Means Family
Coach Dyson with alumna Ashley Schimmel. PHOTO COURTESY OF ELAINE COLLINS.
BY TABITHA TIEFENTHALER
Women’s head soccer coach, Jen Dyson, has always instilled the idea of family in her teams at Westminster for her past eight seasons. Being very family-oriented herself, she takes this very seriously.
Dyson grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, with her two older siblings, a brother, J.D., who is four years older, and a sister named Josie, who is seven months older. Josie was adopted when she was one month old. Dyson said she loved growing up in Lincoln. When she was younger, she always dreamed of becoming either a doctor, an artist, or, of course, a soccer player, a passion she said she wanted pursue in college.
“I went to college to keep playing soccer and go to the next level,” she said.
Dyson had offers from a few different schools, including the University of South Dakota, Drury University, and a school in the NAIA, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Ultimately, she went to Drury, located in Springfield, Missouri.
“I chose Drury because I thought they were the best soccer fit for me,” Dyson said. “I considered the other schools seriously because they had a great coach, but ultimately both lacked pieces I was looking for.”
Dyson has two memorable moments from her four years on the Drury soccer team. One was being able to step back out onto the field for practice after ten months of rehab for an ACL tear. The second memory was of a girl she played that was repeatedly All-Conference player.
“I remember defending her and making her mad while marking her tight,” Dyson said.
While at Drury, Dyson started as a math major until she switched in her junior year to psychology with minors in math, Spanish and global studies.
“I had a misperception of sports psychology and wanted to pursue that until I learned more,” she said.
Dyson graduated from Drury in 2006 wanting to get her graduate degree, so she became a graduate assistant for the women’s soccer team at Drury.
“I like the small community, friendliness, and commitment to student success.” –Head Women’s Soccer Coach Jen Dyson
While working as a graduate assistant, Dyson discovered she wanted to become a coach.
“I saw so many coaches in it for the wrong reasons—like not caring about their players,” she said.
The transition from high school to college was also a tough feat for Dyson. She wanted to help make a safe environment for people.
“I believe my mentors showed me how to help people come together for the greater good of a team, being willing to give up a small piece of ourselves for the greater good of the group,” said Dyson. “I wanted to give more people that chance.”
Westminster was Dyson’s first head coaching job, and now she is about to start her ninth season in the fall. The reason for choosing Westminster was that she knew somebody who worked here, for whom she had a lot of respect.
“I like the small community, friendliness, and commitment to student success,” Dyson said.
When looking back over her eight seasons, one memory really comes to mind. In the fall of 2015, the women’s soccer team had a game dedicated in the memory of Ashley Schimmel’s mom, who passed away from cancer earlier that year. Schimmel, a Westminster alumna, scored a goal that game. That was Dyson’s most memorable coaching moment.
“Never undervalue yourself, and hold others to high standards with how you allow them to treat you.” –Coach Jen Dyson
Dyson has been married to Westminster tennis coach, Dave Dyson, since May of 2010. They met through mutual friends before Jen went to graduate school, then started dating the following Christmas break. They have three children–Brecklin, 5; Maylie, 4; and Dom, 18 months.
Dyson says her family is her biggest accomplishment and would consider her dream vacation exploring anything new with her family. In five years, she said, “I’d like to tell you I’d be right here with three kids in school, somehow fitting a dishwasher in my house, and still doing what I do.”
As her advice to students, Dyson said, “Never undervalue yourself, and hold others to high standards with how you allow them to treat you.”