A New Era for HBU Women’s Soccer

A New Era for HBU Women’s Soccer

For the first time since 2006, the HBU women’s soccer season started with a new head coach overseeing the program with Chris Dodd taking over after Misty Jones’ retirement following the spring 2021 season. That’s not to say that Dodd is not intimately familiar with HBU or the program he is now leading, however.

Jones started the current incarnation of the women’s soccer program at HBU in 2006 (the University fielded a women’s soccer team for two years in 1986 and 1987) with her husband, Steve, restarting the men’s soccer program at the same time. Dodd first came to the HBU campus a year later, joining the men’s team as a freshman goalkeeper in 2007. In four seasons with the Huskies, Dodd amassed 21 wins, 11 shutouts and 187 saves.

He pursued opportunities to play soccer professionally, traveling for a few trials with professional clubs and playing one season for FC Korsholm in Finland before returning to Texas in 2014 and living in San Marcos. At the time, he was searching for what was next professionally but hadn’t yet viewed coaching as a career opportunity.

“Coaching was something I had always participated in, in some form, and I knew I had the tools for, but I hadn’t really thought of it as a career ambition,” he said.

That fall, in August of 2014, a conversation with Steve Jones led to a part-time position working with the HBU men’s and women’s goalkeepers during the week for the 2014 season. That following spring, it was Misty Jones who broached the subject of Dodd joining her and taking over the open assistant coach position on the women’s staff.

“After the fall of 2014, I loved everything I was doing and the potential or opportunity to make that my job, to be coach soccer, to be around the University and this age group became a realization for me. When Misty talked to me about the position, I did a lot of searching and a lot of praying. It was one of those things where as everything started to line up I looked back and realized I had kind of been working towards it the whole time and that this is what I was meant to do.”

Dodd notes that a strong relationship with the Jones family, dating back to 2007 when he joined the Huskies as a student-athlete, helped ease the transition to collegiate assistant coach. Having spent time at the Jones home and knowing their children all helped he and Misty understand one another’s personalities from the start as he took to the task of learning the responsibilities of coaching at the college level, from what the logistics and rules are for recruiting to how to fill out and turn in an expense report.

When it comes to learning on the job, Dodd got a terrific mentor in Jones. Jones racked up 126 wins in her 15 years at HBU, winning three conference tournament titles and twice reaching the NCAA Tournament.

He mentions the growth of the relationship between himself and his boss and a strong understanding of how to fill in the gaps for the other and work complementarily in their roles. He began to see increased mentorship on the part of Jones to help prepare him for head coaching responsibilities.

“Misty gave me more influence on what scheduling looked like, more tactical influence and overall direction of the program. I think as the relationship grew she saw the potential to be a head coach in me and I certainly felt that over the last couple of years.”

Goals for his time as head coach include some things you might expect, like winning another conference championship and returning to the NCAA Tournament, while others include identifying old habits and redefining the culture. The importance is finding elements from the past that worked and that should carry over while also identifying things that didn’t work and need to change. The challenge for Dodd and assistant coach Lo Rivas is how to make that happen when a majority of the roster was on the team last season with Dodd as associate head coach and Rivas a volunteer assistant, giving a great deal of familiarity and comfort in how things were done in the past.

Having seen a good portion of the history of the women’s program first-hand, as a student-athlete on campus and then later as a coach, Dodd recognizes the importance of the past while looking forward.

“Knowing the history of the program and experiencing a lot of it, I know some of the highs and lows but also recognize what women’s soccer represents at the University. It’s certainly a high standard all the way around; academically, socially and athletically.”