The Timpanogos High School girls’ soccer team battled past Skyline and went on to win its second 4A state title in two years last Friday. That very same day, Davis High School girls’ soccer team topped Lone Peak to win the 5A state championship game.
While only two teams could come out of the weekend as state champions, all four teams had one thing in common: coaching connections to BYU.
Team coaches Megan Fereday, Heather Dahl, Cloee Colohan, Colette Smith and Erica Owens are all former BYU soccer players who have taken their talents from the field to the sidelines. Fereday and Dahl serve as head coaches for Timpanogos and Lone Peak, respectively. Colohan and Smith are both assistants for Davis High, while Owens serves as an assistant at Skyline.
All of the coaches remember the great experiences they had while playing for coach Jennifer Rockwood at BYU. Fereday most remembers the experience for the privilege it was.
“What I remember most about my experience as a BYU soccer player is the great honor and responsibility it was to represent something greater than myself,” Fereday said. “Remembering that I was not just representing the BYU soccer team, but also my school, the Church and my family is a lesson that I will never forget.”
Memories for Colohan, Smith and Owens, who are all freshly removed from the program, include playing in the Elite eight of the NCAA tournament in 2012.
“It was a really cool experience to play the Elite eight game at our home field with our fans supporting us,” Colohan said. “Even though we lost it was still an experience of a lifetime, and I will never forget it.”
Owens also marked that game, along with Cougar fans, as one of the best memories on her list.
For Dahl, who has been coaching for many years, the story is a little bit different. She started playing the game at a young age and found it was her passion from the start. She discovered a desire to help teach others the game as she grew and eventually agreed to help her younger sister’s team while she was still attending high school.
“As I matured, I found a love for the tactical side of the game,” Dahl said.
After her husband finished school at BYU, Dahl got an offer from her old high school in Las Vegas to help coach the team. A big move the next year took her family to St. George, where she applied for a vacant coaching position at Dixie College and got the job. She then coached at UNLV and now finds herself back in Utah coaching at Lone Peak High School.
While she enjoys coaching, Dahl understands the importance of family and puts those responsibilities first.
“As my husband’s job has moved us around, I have continued on with coaching … as my family responsibilities have allowed,” Dahl said.
Colohan, Smith and Owens are fairly new to the coaching game. For Colohan, coaching was the perfect opportunity to still be involved in the game she loves by teaching it to others.
“I didn’t realize that when I was done for good at BYU that the transition of not playing would be so hard,” Colohan said. “Soccer has been a part of me since I can remember, and not being affiliated with it was really hard for me, so I thought that coaching might help me fill that void, and it did.”
For Owens, the desire to coach developed while she still played on the team at BYU.
“From the first day that I coached at soccer camps through BYU, I have been hooked,” Owens said. “I love being in a position where I can help teach a young player the importance of doing their very best.”
Smith also found her fire and passion for coaching while playing for the Cougars.
“At BYU we have the opportunity to coach training sessions for a local club team,” Smith said. “I took that opportunity and loved it.”
Despite the coaches’ differences in present affiliation, they all recognize the value of the things they learned from Rockwood and her assistants, Aleisha Rose and Chris Watkins.
“I have learned so much about the game of soccer from Jen,” Owens said. “Offensive strategy, defensive tactics…every aspect of soccer that I thought I had understood prior to coming to college was expanded and improved immeasurably through watching Jen and learning from her as she coached us and other players.”
Fereday has also taken what she learned at BYU to her position at Timponogos High School.
“Playing at BYU taught me the value of hard work and determination, as well as the importance of giving your all to the task at hand,” Fereday said. “These principles have not only helped me in my coaching but in all aspects of my life.”
Colohan attributes her coaching success and style to the lessons she learned on and off the field from the BYU coaching staff.
“It’s funny, because as a player I thought coaching would be so different and that I would be my own type of coach,” Colohan said. “But honestly I try and incorporate all the things I learned from the coaching staff at BYU always when I am coaching.”