Last week the Daily Lobo interviewed University of New Mexico Coach Heather Dyche. A homegrown Burqueño, she is the head coach for women’s soccer.
Dyche grew up playing soccer and had the chance to play in college. After a year at the University of Nebraska, she transferred to Florida State University and was able to play for a total of three years after being redshirted for her first year.
“The team at the time was ranked top five in the nation for three of the four years that I was there, so every year we were trying to win a national championship,” Dyche said.
During her time at Florida State, Dyche maintained a GPA of above 3.5. Her team this year mimics that average as they all boast an average of 3.77.
Dyche knew she was going to have to prioritize her schooling over athletics. She said, for women, "there is no way to make a living playing soccer."
After graduation, she played professionally in the United States for a year and then moved to playing overseas in Norway and New Zealand. According to Dyche, since professional women players do not make a lot of money, she said the experience overseas was "a good opportunity for me to see different parts of the world and grow up a little bit."
When she ended her professional career, Dyche took an additional six years to get her coaching license, but it paved the way for all of the recent work that she has done.
Eight years ago, Dyche co-founded and became the head coach of the LEAD Academy, which is a soccer leadership program for young women in Albuquerque. Dyche said the program is based on individual development.
"It gives players an opportunity to focus on their own playing ability, and it’s done with the idea of them working on integrity and ethics and character. It’s more individual growth rather than measured growth of the whole academy," Dyche said.
While coaching at the LEAD Academy, she has also served as the head coach for the women’s soccer team at UNM.
She said all of her experience at the collegiate and professional levels helped her become a better coach and realize the different things that need to be focused on to help make the team more successful.
Dyche said when she recruits, she looks for women who "come in with a high work ethic and care about the right things and that they’re there for the right reasons." She said they always get to know a player before they join the team and come to the school.
According to Dyche, her goals this year are the same as her past years in coaching.
She said that it isn't just about winning the conference championship, but to "take the process seriously, and that within that process, we maintain high character and that we treat each other right. I feel like if we do that right, then winning will come from that."
Dyche isn't just passionate about soccer — she loves anything that involves being active, such as hiking. She said that she "loves New Mexico for that, because there is so much opportunity to be outside and enjoy our environment."
Angelina Pompeo is a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @PompeoAngelina