Leadership, Communication key ingredients for new soccer, volleyball head coaches

Raghav Raj | Staff Writer

 Two of Mason’s most successful athletic programs will have new leaders in the fall of 2021. 

A 2020 Greater Miami Conference coach of the year takes over for the departed Tiann Myer in girls volleyball, while a former Ohio Coach of the Year has been tapped to take over the boys soccer program. 

Myer, who stepped down at the conclusion of the season after winning five consecutive GMC titles, will be replaced by former Colerain head coach Lindsey Dinkelacker, who guided her Cardinal squad to one of their best seasons ever. Dinkelacker has an impressive resume, which includes turning around the struggling Colerain program, as well as guiding one of the area’s top club volleyball programs. 

Dinkelacker has some big shoes to fill. Myer, who moved to Georgia after the 2020 season, is the winningest coach in Mason Girls Volleyball history. In her 14 year tenure, Myer racked up 286 wins and only 90 losses. Along the way, she turned the Mason program into one of the area’s best, racking up seven coach of the year honors, claiming seven GMC titles, and sending several players onto the collegiate level.

Dinkelacker, who actually shared coach of the year honors with Myers this past season, is cognizant of the legacy of success she has inherited from Myer. 

“With how good this girls team has consistently been, there’s obviously a lot of pressure for any new coach coming in,” said Dinkelacker. “But, to me it feels like a good pressure. It’s one of those things that really holds the players, the staff, and just the program as a whole to a higher standard, where we’re not able to slack and we can keep striving for bigger and better things.”

For Dinkelacker, these bigger and better things involve postseason success, from continuing Mason’s string of GMC championships to gearing up the girls for a run at the state title. However, her primary goal as a new coach is to build a strong and trusting relationship with her players, something she hopes to translate into a continuation of their winning culture.

“I’m not trying to overhaul everything these girls have built, as much as I’m trying to help them grow and build upon what’s been done here at Mason,” said Dinkelacker. “I have a plan for how we can reach our goals, and I want them to be able to trust and buy into that plan, to be able to communicate and count on each other, and execute consistently when it comes down to game time.”

Building a culture of strong leadership and communication is also important to newly anointed head boys soccer coach, Nate Baer. 

Baer takes over the program from two time GMC Coach of the Year, Mike Combs, who stepped down at the conclusion of the 2020 season. The Mason boys soccer program is no stranger to success — the Comets have dominated the GMC, won their fair share of district championships (most recently this past year), and took home a state title in 2013. 

In eight seasons as the head coach of the boys team of Ottawa Hills, a Division III school located just west of Toledo, Ohio, Baer’s Green Bears had an overall record of 112-34-6, along with a Division III state runner up finish in 2017. In 2018, Baer was named the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Ohio Soccer Coach of the Year, and in 2019 he was recognized as Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State High Schools. 

While Baer has some impressive accomplishments, he plans to bring a coaching style that puts the focus on shared leadership and service. 

“My leadership style is one where we, as coaches, are serving the players and putting them in positions where they can be successful and grow,” said Baer. “We want to pair that sort of leadership, that service-based leadership, with a clear vision, a clear plan on how we can move forward as a team and get where we want to be.”

For Baer, this vision also involves providing the players a deeper and more intricate understanding of how the game of soccer is played.

“As someone with a data analytics background, there’s this sort of emphasis on detail and structure orientation that informs a lot of how I view the game of soccer,” said Baer. “I want my players to constantly be mentally engaged, and I want to focus on mindset to the point that they’re ready for whatever they have to face.”

While soccer and volleyball don’t share many similarities (except that they both employ a ball and a net), it does appear that Mason newest fall sport coaches share a similarity when it comes to mental preparation and a deeper strategic understanding. The focus on preparation and working toward a common goal is something also Dinkelacker hopes to instill in her players. 

“It’s easy to set these big goals, but we have to be realistic and work towards them every week, set these smaller goals and work our way up to the bigger ones,” said Dinkelacker. “There’s always a lot of variables being thrown around that we have to adjust for, and I want to make sure that we’re prepared to meet whatever gets thrown at us and adapt, because that’s how we get where we want to go.”