DALLAS — Dallas boys soccer coach John Jones stepped into a difficult spot last season.
He took over a program that had failed to win a game since 2011 and scored just seven total goals the season before he arrived.
The Dragons showed signs of improvement in 2015 — including earning a win over Redmond.
Now, Dallas has something it hasn’t had in a while: consistency at head coach.
“It is so helpful to know the players this year,” Jones said. “To know their attitudes and skills, it helps me set expectations for the start of the season.”
Jones enters his second year at the helm, but brings together an inexperienced team.
The Dragons saw nine seniors from last year’s roster graduate.
He hopes for those players who are returning that the consistency at coach leads to a smooth transition.
“We have a wide variety of skill levels,” Jones said. “The work of bringing a team together will require each individual to be willing to become better in some way as an individual, whether that be skills or improving attitudes.”
Getting players up to speed on the field of play is easy compared to perhaps the bigger challenge: changing the team’s culture.
The Dragons have long been one of the Mid-Willamette Conference’s worst teams. Getting his players to believe they belong while building the program up is a balancing act Jones works on each and every practice.
“Culture is one of the most difficult things to change, but having a very different team this year will help,” Jones said. “As we work hard, the team will have to decide there is no reason they shouldn’t win.”
That can be something Jones presses on his team but ultimately, his players will decide whether they buy into it or not.
Jones hopes to lead Dallas’ soccer program into contention in the MWC. That’s a goal that will likely take time to work up to.
The Dragons took the first, if small, steps forward in 2015. Jones hopes to help continue that progress forward.
“I’ve enjoyed watching some of the more experienced players take the younger players and encourage and work with them,” Jones said. “I love to see the team trusting each other and having higher expectations of each other. We still have a lot to work on, but I see improvement.”