From the first summer workout to the last game of the season, Denton’s Ryan Dunlevy has cultivated a winning attitude and a family atmosphere with his energy and expectations.
With Scott Heffley retiring after 17 seasons at Denton, Dunlevy has been named as the next head coach of the boys’ soccer team, and after one of the most successful seasons in program history, he is ready to inject his enthusiasm and work ethic.
“I’ve watched some game film from them last year and everybody I talked to talked about this group of seniors next year, how dedicated they are and how hard they are going to work,” Dunlevy said. “It’s a mentality that winning is important and everything we do needs to be geared around winning so we can keep this tradition that this group has established — not just do what they did last year but build on it and continue to get better each year.”
In his ninth year as a soccer coach, Dunlevy has an intense focus on the offseason and is eager to set the tone with a new group of athletes.
“Offseason is big for me,” Dunlevy said. “I run very, very, very intense offseasons. The past four years I’ve been coaching girls and they averaged 5 to 10 pounds of muscle put on. We have summer workouts three days a week that are voluntary, but they all show up. I had 30 to 40 girls show up and they were begging me for workouts before I left. Offseason is where I like to set the mentality of the team, and that is to win.”
Dunlevy spent the last two seasons as the girls’ head coach at Midland after two years at Greenville. After he finished his collegiate playing days at Hardin-Simmons and East Texas Baptist, he began to explore coaching soccer as an assistant at Justin Northwest under his former coach, Cody Schroeder, who now coaches at Guyer.
Schroeder has had an essential impact on Dunlevy’s coaching style — a style he has continued to mold into his vigorous, in-your-face demeanor.
“A lot of my coaching style kind of comes from him,” Dunlevy said. “One of my college coaches was similar. I’m a very animated, in-your-face kind of style that I’ve developed over the past eight years. It’s been pretty neat to come back and talk to him as a coach rather than just a player.”
After coaching girls as a head coach for the past four seasons, this is Dunlevy’s first opportunity to coach boys.
He said it’s not that much different, but there are certain aspects he prefers about coaching boys.
“As far as coaching boys, it’s a faster-paced game,” Dunlevy said. “I’ve enjoyed coaching girls, but this is an awesome opportunity for me to grow as a coach as well. You have to approach boys a little differently, and I’ve been thinking about what I’ll change to be effective for them.”
Dunlevy manages his expectations from the team right from day one while also grading his players on a daily basis, always quick to give feedback and criticism.
Also teaching government and AP government, Dunlevy thinks of himself as a teacher first, deciding he wanted to teach as early as a freshman in high school, with soccer as a bonus.
His vigor on the field translates to the classroom and vice versa.
“The classroom is why I’m here,” Dunlevy said. “I love the soccer part. In the classroom, I bring the same type of energy. I don’t lecture and bore kids to death. The kids enjoy it, and I try to keep my classroom as fun as I can.”
For Dunlevy, his wife, Chelsey, and son Canvas, soccer runs in the family as Chelsey also played four years of soccer at Texas A&M-Commerce.
“Soccer is in the family, very much so,” Dunlevy said. “She’s a teacher, so she puts a lot of time into the classroom and having her understand how the life of a coach has to work makes it so much easier. It’s nice when I go home and ask what she saw. I get my dad’s opinion. I put them all together for the next day.”
That family connection with soccer doesn’t stop with his immediate family. Dunlevy plans to make it an integral part of the team, which he thinks contributes to better improvement, accountability and motivation.
“Previously, my expectation is to win and do whatever it takes to win,” Dunlevy said. “The kids have adopted it. We don’t take days off. You’re there; you’re committed full time, year-round. All that stuff kind of works itself out, so whenever you get to the season, players are holding each other accountable. I develop a very family-oriented team.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.