Each Friday during the 2017-18 academic year, the conference office will release a SCAC Spotlight feature story. For the first 13 weeks, the focus of these feature stories will be former student-athletes who played at an SCAC institution and went on to become head coaches in the conference.
In this, the eleventh SCAC Spotlight feature, we sit down with Trinity University's Head Women's Soccer Coach Dylan Harrison, who believes Trinity University and the SCAC has shaped him into the coach he is today.
Dylan Harrison’s relationship to Trinity University’s Head Men’s Soccer Coach, Paul McGinlay, started when he was 14 years old. But what Harrison didn’t know then was McGinlay would eventually be a coworker of his.
When it came time to decide on a university for Harrison’s higher education, he knew a good soccer program and schooling were his top priorities. Trinity University had both and a familiar face in the soccer program.
Harrison had a standout career on the soccer field. He helped lead the Tigers to the NCAA Division III quarterfinals in 1998 and 1999, and to the third round in 2000.
Harrison started his path into the coaching realm right next door to his alma mater at the University of the Incarnate Word.
But the transition from student-athlete to coach wasn’t easy.
“Being a player and a student is so much of our identity at the time, to kind of separate yourself from things is very hard,” Harrison said.
As the varsity Graduate Assistant who also coached the JV squad, he was still felt like he could be a player and play in the game. He believes moving into the women’s side of the sport gave a push to mentally become a coach because he had to look at the game in a different perspective.
As a young coach at UIW, Harrison is thankful for his athletes that helped him grow into the coach he is today.
“I had a lot of players who were understanding of me being a young coach, making mistakes, and helping and wanting me to get better as a coach knowing that I really did have the best interests of the student and the team,” Harrison said. “They were understanding when I made those mistakes and gave me an opportunity to correct them. I hope I did that and I hope I created an experience in my time that was similar to my own. I had a great experience as a player and I really want to pass that on to as many of our students as possible.”
Harrison bounced around to a few more programs, including a head coaching position at Division I Nicholls State University.
Seeing the game played in different divisions and different conferences of the sport as a coach, combined with his time as a Division III player in the SCAC conference, Harrison now fully believes the Division III philosophy and the SCAC shaped him and his relationships he has today.
“It’s given up experiences that shape us in terms of our memories of college, having teammates that I was fortunate enough to play with, who either I was in their wedding or they were at my wedding, those lifelong friendships that I’ve had through the sport,” Harrison said. “It’s given me plenty of opportunities to see and do different things and be friends with players that I might not have been exposed to if it wasn’t for our sport, our university, and our conference that we’re allowed to compete in.”
After 15 years of being away from Trinity, Harrison saw an opening at his alma mater and applied. Those who interviewed him remembered Harrison from his time at TU, but quickly got to know him again from a different perspective-a potential head coach. Only on campus for one day, Harrison met plenty of people, coaches and most importantly for Harrison, the team, which helped seal the deal when Trinity offered him the position.
“We still had the type of athletes and students that I could relate to as a coach; [they are] very driven and want to succeed,” Harrison said.
Since taking the reins two years ago, Harrison has helped the Tigers extend their SCAC championship streak to nine straight and the program is currently riding a 96 match conference win streak with 24 of those coming under Harrison's guidance.
Previous SCAC Spotlights:
12|15|2017 - Austin Carrola, Schreiner University
12|08|2017 - Cameron Hill, Trinity University
12|01|2017 - Janson Hightower, Southwestern University
11|17|2017 - Sam Davidson, Schreiner University
11|10|2017 - Mark Hudson, Austin College
10|27|2017 - Matt Barber, University of Dallas
10|20|2017 - Jeherme Urban, Trinity University
10|13|2017 - David Foley, Centenary College
10|06|2017 - Emily Daum, Trinity University
09|29|2017 - Ryan Dodd, Austin College