Westley Dayus zeroes in on career as soccer coach via Exercise and Sport Science program.
Westley Dayus, 31, was born in the tiny village of Shrawley in the county of Worcestershire in the West Midlands region of central England. Even as a youngster, Dayus knew that football, aka soccer, was in his blood.
“I played for Stourport-on-Severn when I was in high school,” Dayus said. “We were County Cup champions, which is something when you consider the quality of our competition. Had we traveled to Minnesota to play high school soccer, we would have owned any team in the state.”
After high school, Dayus pursued his dream of becoming a professional soccer coach by heading east to the Netherlands where he earned his International Coaching Certificate at the KNVB Academy , the former training ground of the Dutch National Team, one of the leading soccer dynasties on Earth.
For Dayus, landing that certification was a key stepping stone on his career path. “At the time, there were only 88 KNVB-certified coaches in the world,” he said. “I was now prepared to start coaching semipro soccer back in England.”
After gaining crucial coaching experience, Dayus decided to accept an offer from a company recruiting soccer coaches from the United Kingdom for jobs in the United States. In 2002, he relocated to south-central Minnesota where he began coaching 9 and 11-year-olds at the Dayton Soccer Club in Champlin.
“There were some pretty fierce players on those squads,” Dayus recalled with a smile. “They really took their soccer seriously.”
Dayus later took a job coaching at the Northern Lights Soccer Club in Anoka. As it turned out, his new position changed the course of his life. “That’s where I met my wife, Cindi,” he said. “She was a friend of the club’s president and I knew straightaway that she was the one.”
Cindi Dayus eventually convinced her husband to advance his education by enrolling in the Exercise and Sport Science program at Dakota County Technical College. Sara Woodward, the program’s instructor, related that Westley Dayus brings a unique perspective to her classroom.
“Having lived in England and the United States, Westley is able to compare cultures, identifying strengths and weaknesses in both,” Woodward said. “His contributions to class discussions are invaluable as he teaches his classmates about the sports experience overseas.”
Dayus enjoys his studies and truly appreciates Woodward, who was honored as the DCTC 2007 Instructor of the Year. “Everybody loves Sara,” Dayus said. “She kicks your butt, but also offers a shoulder to cry on. We all learn so much more because she’s there.”
“The camaraderie and realness on our team would be tough to match anywhere else. The soccer ball can do a lot for world politics, I’ll tell you.”
Another aspect that sold Dayus on DCTC was the college’s superb Soccer program. Cam Stoltz, the head coach of the men and women’s teams, and Nicole Meulemans, Stoltz’s assistant coach, quickly emerged as guiding influences on the personable Englishman.
“Cam and Nicole really made a difference in my life,” Dayus said. “Their drive and soccer knowledge spurred me to keep going and get my degree, which is a critical link in becoming a professional coach in America. They also talked me into joining the Blue Knights as a player—something I never planned on doing.”
Stoltz welcomed Dayus as a solidifying force on an already cohesive and dynamic team. “Westley is a nontraditional student with a wealth of experience,” Stoltz said. “He’s lived life and gained a lot of wisdom along the way. He’s well-liked and something of an older brother to the younger players. He’s also a powerful motivator.”
Meulemans concurred. “Westley is a great resource for our program, both as a student and a player. With his coaching background, he has helped us launch community soccer camps and clinics.”
Meulemans added that the DCTC Soccer program continues to attract a wide range of student-athletes from local communities, the region and the world. Dayus is one case in point from a myriad of examples.
Stoltz underscored his assistant coach’s assessment by pointing to a roster of Minnesota residents who originally hailed from an astonishing array of countries, including Bosnia, Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana, Albania, Somalia, Uganda, Colombia, Liberia, Mexico, Angola, Syria and Costa Rica.
Dayus ranks the soccer team’s diversity as its most unifying characteristic. “Because we come from all over the world, we find it easy and natural to kid each other about our differences. The camaraderie and realness on our team would be tough to match anywhere else. The soccer ball can do a lot for world politics, I’ll tell you.”
He also noted that many of his teammates reject the European “long ball” style of play. “They’re always telling me to keep it short and stop kicking it long. They like to fiddle about with fancy short passes. In any event, no matter what our playing style, we all take the field as if everyone in each of our native countries were watching.”
As a freshman during the 2006-2007 season, Dayus played fullback for the Blue Knights. He’s currently practicing with the team and is considering coming out of retirement in 2008. “I’m not as young as I used to be and my muscles seem a little sorer after practices,” he said. “But who knows, mate? Maybe Cam can talk me into it.”
Dayus resides in Apple Valley with Cindi and their twin sons, Devon and Avery, 13. A former coach of the boy’s JV soccer squad at Lake South High School, he recently began coaching community hockey in Apple Valley. He plans on earning his A.A.S. degree in exercise and sport science in 2009 and looks forward to a career as a professional soccer coach.
The Blue Knights begin official practice sessions on Aug. 1, 2008. The team practices at the Irish Sports Dome, a premier indoor facility in Rosemount. Home games are played at North River Hills Park, a 43-acre community park in Burnsville.
The 2008 soccer season begins away from home on Aug. 26 at Marshalltown Community College in Marshalltown, Iowa. That same month, the Blue Knights travel to Arizona to play three different schools, including Yavapai College, home of the Roughriders, six-time NJCAA Division 1 soccer champions.
Nicole Meulemans, assistant director of student life and athletics, and Dan Houck, a former player with the Minnesota Thunder, are the team’s assistant coaches underHead Coach Cam Stoltz.
Graduates of the Exercise and Sport Science program at DCTC are fully prepared to obtain national certification from a variety of fitness authorities, including the American Council on Exercise. Graduates find rewarding work as fitness experts, personal trainers, and group exercise instructors in a variety of settings, including health clubs, fitness centers, resorts, country clubs, rehabilitation centers, private homes, and wellness facilities on hospital grounds and university and corporate campuses.
According to CNNMoney.com, the demand for fitness trainers will skyrocket as retiring baby boomers seek to develop safe and effective wellness strategies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks fitness worker as one of the fastest-growing occupations in America, pointing to a projected 27 percent increase in employment through 2016.