After years of working at the club and Olympic level, Dyche will be moving into collegiate ranks following her introduction as the new head coach of the New Mexico women’s soccer program on Thursday.
Dyche, an Albuquerque native, will become the fourth head coach in the history of the program, and this will be her first head coaching position at the university level.
“The appealing part to me was that it was the University of New Mexico,” she said. “I care about this state and I care about this program.”
Junior defender Olivia Ferrier said she believes Dyche will be a good fit for UNM.
“I’m excited, and I think I can speak for the whole team when I say that,” Ferrier said. “It’s going to be different because we’ve never gone through anything like this before, but sometimes I think that change is the best thing for us.”
During her career as a soccer player, Dyche played at Eldorado high school and was a four-year All-State defender. She participated at Nebraska during her freshman year of college, then transferred to Florida State, playing there from 1998-2001.
Her résumé of soccer experience is a long one. Some of the notable stops in her career include: being a staff member with the United States Soccer Federation, instructing USSF B- and USSF C-licensed national coaching schools and serving as an assistant coach for the United States Youth National U14 Girls program.
Dyche has also coached teams at Olympic Development Interregional events and searches for top players in the region to compete in the Olympic Development Program Regional Team.
However, despite her range of experience as a soccer coach, Dyche never received any offers to become a Division I coach. She received several offers to become an assistant, but didn’t have any interest.
“Of all the other collegiate opportunities, this one meant the most to me,” she said. “I want to be here. I want to be in Albuquerque.”
New Mexico Vice President for Athletics Paul Krebs said several Division I head coaches and top-25 assistants showed interest in the job. He said that among the reasons they chose Dyche was how well-connected she is around the nation and how much experience she has.
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“The things that jumped out at me were her vast experience as a player and as a coach at the club level,” Krebs said.
With regard to her connections, Dyche said she thinks one day she’ll be able to recruit some of the top national and regional players in the country. She added that eight players will sign national letters of intent to play at UNM next week.
“I think, if we do things right, (UNM will) be a place where national players want to come,” Dyche said. “The players that we have here are outstanding. To me, it’s highlighting a good group of players with national players and regional players.”
Dyche is to replace former head coach Kit Vela, whose contract was not renewed after 14 seasons with UNM and a 10-6-2 record in 2014. Before last season began the women’s program was involved in a hazing incident that resulted in the Lobos’ first game at Texas Tech being cancelled. Vela was also suspended for one week without pay.
An internal investigation performed by UNM showed that underclassmen were humiliated by various means. The hazing also resulted in two players being hospitalized for excessive alcohol consumption.
Krebs said he felt UNM’s full potential wasn’t being reached under Vela.
“When we made the decision to change coaches last November, one of the things that I certainly tried to mention is my belief that our expectations were not being met in the women’s soccer program,” Krebs said. “I think the same advantages that the men’s program has ... we have in our women’s program.”
Dyche said the culture of the women’s soccer team was one of her concerns, but her doubts were relived after she witnessed the progress made by the program.
“I think it’s something that, having been here, was one of my questions, too: making sure it was the right culture,” Dyche said. “The one thing that I was really impressed with is the willingness to learn from a mistake. Everyone is really invested in taking that moment as a teaching opportunity and moving forward in a positive way.”
Thomas Romero-Salas is the sport editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ThomasRomeroS.