Courtesy: University of North Texas
Having established himself as one of the most prominent coaches in the Central Region, John Hedlund has molded the Mean Green soccer program into one of the nation’s elite.
Hedlund has had a winning season all 18 years at North Texas; only Anson Dorrance (North Carolina, 31 years) and John Daly (William & Mary, 26 years) have active streaks of more winning seasons at one school. Since 1995, Hedlund has led North Texas to a 250-99-23 record, the 9th-best winning percentage among all active coaches nationally at just one school.
Heading into his 19th year with the Mean Green, Hedlund and NT have won each of the last two Sun Belt Conference regular season titles and the 2012 SBC Tournament championship. In all, Hedlund has led North Texas to eight conference championships, including five regular season titles, and three trips to the NCAA Tournament (2004, 2005, 2012).
In fact, with the win in the 2012 Sun Belt title game Hedlund became just the 25th coach in NCAA Division I history to reach the 250 win plateau.
Hedlund now leads NT into Conference USA having coached 61 all-conference players since 1999, including three Sun Belt Player of the Year awards and four Sun Belt Freshmen of the Year. He has won three Sun Belt Coach of the Year awards, the latest in 2011. He has been recognized as the North Texas Coach of the Year by the Dallas Morning News and the Dallas All Sports Association, and the Greater Denton Sports Commission two years in a row
Hedlund’s 250 wins rank him 21st among Division I women’s soccer active coaches with a winning percentage of .705. All-time, he is the 69th-winningest coach in women’s collegiate soccer history. Hedlund is also ranked 21st in victories among active coaches in Division I women’s soccer.
Hedlund started the program from scratch in 1995 by implementing a game plan that emphasizes recruiting from the surplus of talent available in the Lone Star State. In his 18 years, the Mean Green has vaulted itself into one of the premier programs in the state of Texas.
In 2007, Hedlund led North Texas to its best start in school history with a 13-2 record through the first 15 games. Within the first 15 games the Mean Green had two six-game winning streaks for the first time in school history. North Texas reached the conference tournament championship game for the eighth straight season, a feat that has been unmatched by any other in the Sun Belt Conference.
Hedlund led the Mean Green to its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament and a school-record 16 wins in 2004. Hedlund equaled that performance by winning 16 games and leading the Mean Green to back-to-back SBC titles in 2005 and a second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. Hedlund was also named the 2005 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year. In 2005, North Texas set numerous school records and had the nation’s third longest unbeaten streak at 15 games.
At home, North Texas has established a record of dominance with a record of 102-10-9 since the 2000 season, including a 56-7-5 mark in seven seasons at the Mean Green Soccer Complex.
Individually Hedlund brought out the best in forward Marilyn Marin as she turned in the best individual season in North Texas history in 2002. Marin led the nation in goals, points, and points per game. She ended her career with 214 career points, tied for 10th in NCAA history, 88 goals, eight in NCAA history, 2.70 points per game, tied for seventh in NCAA history, and 1.11 goals per game, tied for eighth in NCAA history.
His standard for success began in 2001 when he guided the Mean Green to the Sun Belt Conference’s regular-season championship -- the program’s first-ever soccer title -- and a 13-5 overall record.
In 11 years in the Sun Belt Conference, the Mean Green has also earned the respect of the league’s coaches. 42 different players have been selected all-conference and 31 have been named first-team all-conference since joining the SBC.
Marin and Kendall Juett are the only four-time all-conference selections in North Texas soccer history. Heather Hutyra became the second player at North Texas to the named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year. Under Hedlund’s guidance, four of his players have also been chosen Freshman All-America, including Marin as a first team pick in 2000. Freshman Janaye Woods joined that list she was named the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year and named to the Freshman All-Region team in 2007.
Four women’s soccer players have been inducted to the North Texas Athletic Hall of Fame. Krista Davey became the first soccer player to be inducted in 2005, followed by Christy Johnson in 2007 and Marilyn Marin in 2008. Melinda Pina was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2011.
Under Hedlund, the Mean Green have also succeeded in the classroom, boasting an overall 3.4 team GPA in 2000 and twice being named the school’s All-Academic Team in 1998 and 1999.
The team was recognized for its off-field accomplishments by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America as one of the recipients for the 2010 NSCAA Team Academic Award. The NSCAA annually hands out the academic honor to Division I schools whose team grade point average is a 3.0 or higher and the most recent accolade is for the 2009-10 academic year. The Mean Green, who posted a 3.30 team GPA in the spring of 2010 have now earned at least a 3.0 team GPA three years in a row. Additionally, the women’s soccer team’s APR (Academic Progress Report) has been ranked in the top 10% nationally three out of the last four years.
Hedlund’s association with North Texas began in 1990 as an assistant men’s soccer coach. He served briefly as the head coach of the men’s program in 1994 before the university discontinued the sport.
In 1995, Hedlund concluded a 12-year professional playing career, in which he played defender for the United States Men's Olympic qualifying team (1983-84), the New York Express (1984-85), the Dallas Sidekicks (1986-87 and 1992-95) and the Dallas Rockets (1988-91).
In the outdoor game, Hedlund played with the Richardson Rockets, who won the 1991 SISL Championship and reached the 1991 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final. Hedlund helped the Rockets reach new heights in American soccer by reaching the fourth round of the 1992 CONCACAF Champions Cup. The Dallas Rockets were one of only three United States teams to reach the fourth round of the Champions Cup in the pre-Major League Soccer era (1969-1994), but fell in the fourth round to Club America in Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. He played with the United States Olympic team under Manfred Schellscheidt in the lead up to the 1984 Summer Olympics, but missed the Olympic Tournament due to injury. With the United States, Hedlund played tournaments in South Korea, Sweden, Finland and Malaysia.
A four-year letterwinner at Midwestern State University, Hedlund was twice voted to the NAIA All-America team in college. He scored 26 goals and added 12 assists, playing several different positions on the pitch. He was named the Most Valuable Player in the 1983 NAIA National Tournament, as he led the Mustangs to the championship game. He is a member of Midwestern State's Athletic Hall of Honor.
The Plano native holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Midwestern State and resides in Argyle with his wife, Julie, and sons Chad, who plays football for Wake Forest, and Cole, who set the national high school football record in field goals made for Argyle High School in 2011.
! NCAA Tournament