Getting To Know: Daniel Dobson
Dobson Has Spent The Last Four Years With Mean Green Soccer
Head coaches are front and center of every college athletic team. Their assistant coaches are tirelessly working behind the scenes, juggling multiple things at once. What are their stories?
Every Wednesday during the summer, MeanGreenSports.com will be featuring an assistant coach from a North Texas team.
Daniel Dobson is a great example of finding and pursuing your passion no matter how bumpy the road proves to be. The current assistant coach at North Texas began his collegiate coaching career by working John Hedlund's summer soccer camps. That led to a volunteer position with the team, followed by a part-time gig the next year. In 2014, Dobson was promoted to a full-time assistant position with Mean Green soccer.
We had a chance to sit down with the Mean Green's assistant soccer coach to learn a little bit more about how he became a part of the coaching staff at North Texas, his professional career and why he loves coaching Division I soccer.
How did you get into coaching?
"I was back home in the off season trying to decide if I wanted to keep playing professional soccer or what I wanted to do for a career. I met a former MLS player who owned his own youth soccer club in Dallas and started coaching with him. I was 23 years old at the time and fell in love with coaching from there."
Can you talk about your professional soccer career?
"It was a short experience, but a dream come true. I got to be the first soccer player from the University of Memphis to sign a MLS contract. The Kansas City Wizards (Sporting KC) picked me as an undrafted free agent and signed me to a one- year deal to play the 2005 season.
"The first few months in Kansas City was a big learning curve for me. The game was faster, quicker touches, everyone was so fit and flying around. It was fun being a rookie on a team who just lost in the MLS Cup Final the year before, but getting playing time in games was tough because everyone on the team was so good. We had a few guys on the US National Team who played in the World Cup and our head coach, Bob Gansler, was the former head coach of the men's national team. Coach Gansler was fun to play for and I gained a lot of soccer knowledge from him and his training sessions. I also enjoyed the road trips and seeing other stadiums. I made six road trips that year and got to play in New York, California, New England, Chicago, Dallas and Florida."
Why did you stop playing?
"At the end of the season my contract didn't get renewed. I was told I needed to move down to the A-league (pro division under MLS) to get more game experience. My agent got me a contract with an A league team in Charleston, but I turned it down to stay home and start my coaching career in Dallas.
How did you move from coaching club soccer to college soccer?
"Matt Montayne (North Texas goalkeeper coach) got me into college soccer. Matthew and I have known each other our entire lives; we grew up two doors down from each other and we started our own soccer club together. Matt was coaching at UNT during the 2011 season with Coach Hedlund, and he got me involved working summer camp in 2012. After summer camp, I was able to be a volunteer assistant coach for the fall 2012 season. From the first practice, I was hooked. The players on the team were very good, Coach Hedlund was fun to work for, and I got to coach D1 college soccer with my best friend, Matt. That season was fun. We won the regular season title, tournament title and advanced to the NCAA tournament."
What made you stick with it?
"It was tough as a volunteer assistant driving an hour to and from practice to help coach and not get paid. But I saw it as a great opportunity and a chance to advance in my coaching career. I stuck with it because I saw how good and athletic the girls were and how competitive John was. It led to a part-time gig in 2013 and then full-time in 2014. Club soccer gave me the love for coaching but college soccer gave me the real passion. Now, I know college soccer is where I want to stay, and I'm definitely happy the way it has worked out."
You help out the athletic communications office on the road with setting up interviews between the players and the media. You have experience with that. Can you tell us about it?
"I had an opportunity during my junior and senior years of college to be a public relations intern for the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA. It was a game-night internship. I would set up the media area a couple hours before the game, take notes courtside during the game, and get quotes from the players. It was cool getting quotes from NBA players and coaches like LeBron, Kobe and Shaq.
"That internship definitely opened my eyes to a lot of stuff. It got me out of my shell and made me grow up. I had to interact with a lot of people, and I became more comfortable going up and talking to people. It was a very cool, unique experience."
Are you still coaching club soccer?
"I was coaching club in Highland Park for the last nine years. Now that I have moved up here, I help out with a local club, NTFC. I help the club with skill training and coach two girls' teams."
What age do you like coaching?
"I love coaching at the D1 college level, that's my favorite. I am fortunate to get to coach anywhere from beginners all the way up to D1 college players. With the little ones, you are teaching the basics, and you see them excel because they learn the correct techniques early. The middle and high school ages are fun because they can really play, and you can work more on tactics and improving their touch and speed of play. But without a doubt, D1 is my favorite. The games mean something. You are playing for titles, you are playing for your university. It's fun winning rings too."
Assistant coaches do a lot behind the scenes. Is there anything you don't like doing?
"Luckily, John has been doing this for so long and has been very successful. He's an incredible mentor. Just being around him, and observing him on a daily basis, is priceless.
"I love it. I love organizing the travel. I'm learning from John and getting better at recruiting. Breaking teams down and watching film can be time consuming, but I kind of enjoy it. Luckily, I don't have to do laundry that much.
"I would say the only negative thing would be the hours. This isn't your typical 9-5 job. We work a lot of nights and weekends going to games and practices to recruit. It's a little tougher now that my wife, Casey, and I have a 14-month old son, Luke. But Casey sends me photos and videos of Luke's new tricks when I'm away working so that helps. And they both enjoy cheering UNT on from the sidelines at our games."
Getting To Know Archive
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June 10 - Derek Mackel