Playing experience, teaching experience and a new perspective. Those are a few of the things Ball State soccer’s new assistant coach Katy Dolesh brings to the table.
In her collegiate career at Miami (Ohio), Dolesh faced Ball State several times, including a loss in the Mid-American Conference Tournament in 2013 that ended her playing days, a memory that stuck with her and gave her a new respect for head coach Craig Roberts and the rest of the program.
“I’d say there’s definitely a mutual respect,” Dolesh said. “When I played — my senior year actually — my team had lost to his team in the semis of the MAC Tournament on penalty kicks, so ever since then, I’ve kind of had this memory of Ball State, and them getting better. So, since then, they just keep getting better and winning championships, and I’m really excited to be here and contribute to it.”
As a four-time All-MAC player at Miami who led the team to a school-record 20 wins in 2012, a MAC Tournament Championship and a victory over a No. 20 Tennessee program in the NCAA Tournament, Dolesh brings more than just a knack for winning.
The South Euclid, Ohio, native also fits the bill on the academic side, having earned Academic All-MAC honors three times. Dolesh obtained her bachelor’s degree in health promotion in 2014 and her master’s in sports leadership in 2015.
“One of the things that really impresses me about Katy is that she definitely delivers the responsibility of being a great role model for the players that are currently on the team, whether it’s going to be the accolades that she received as a player or how she conducts herself off the field,” Roberts said.
As a team that earned a cumulative 3.6 GPA last season, the players say they will enjoy the positive influence Dolesh brings in that regard.
“We have a big standard of academics within this team, so I think she just brings the continued pursuit of ‘You need to be doing your studies; you need to be getting good grades academically,’ and especially just a resource. ... I think it’ll be really helpful, especially in the fall,” senior defender Taylor Pooley said.
Having finished her playing days just four years ago, Dolesh offers a fresh perspective to the team and can see things from a player’s point of view. She also participated in the team’s fitness assessment with the players during spring practices and has scrimmaged with the team. Her participation in the activities is something the players enjoy about their new coach.
“It’s nice that she just recently got done playing and in our conference, which is even more exciting; she does have a little better understanding of who our opponents are [and] how they’re playing, and as female players, she can jump in, and she can join our drills and play with us — which is nice — and point things out that we may not see,” senior goalkeeper Tristin Stuteville said.
Perhaps one of the biggest differences Dolesh could make for the team is with her experience winning the MAC Tournament, something the team is still in search of. Having gotten over that hump in her junior year when she recorded nine goals, eight assists and helped the Miami Redhawks to a perfect 10-0 record in true road games, her knowledge of what it takes to win big games will be valuable in the eyes of the team.
“To have somebody who’s not just saying ‘You know what, this is what we need to do,’ it’s someone who’s been there; someone who actually knows this is how hard you have to push, and this is how hard you have to train and whatnot to get things to go your way,” senior midfielder Lauren Roll said. “So, I think from a legitimate standpoint, she’s going to be a person to listen to when it comes to the end of the season.”
As for the upcoming fall season, the team feels it is in a good place with Dolesh on board with the program.
“I think she’s going to come in and serve as a good role model for us all the way through,” Roberts said. “She kind of epitomizes what we look for in our players. It’s not just about playing soccer for me; it’s about maintaining that 3.65 GPA like we did last season and winning a championship because the two together are not easy to do.”
With 10 seniors on the roster for the fall, Dolesh hopes to help Ball State finish its spring on a high note and win a championship in the fall.
“Come the fall, [the goal] will be just to kind of start back off where they had left off, which is try to win another regular-season championship, but really I’m hoping we can get to that tournament championship and get to the NCAA Tournament so these girls can get a taste of what that’s really like and the true competition of this sport at this level,” Dolesh said.
The team’s road to success will continue with a trip to Notre Dame at 7 p.m. on April 7.