After attending Keene State, women’s Head Soccer Coach Denise Lyons knew she couldn’t leave KSC for good.
“I played for all four years at Keene State and became the assistant coach after I graduated. This currently is my twentieth year as head coach. I love Keene State. I enjoyed my experience as an undergrad and made lifelong friends here. Keene State College has a lot to offer both academically and athletically and the campus is really nice, which makes it an easy sell convincing recruits to attend,” Lyons said.
“I like the city of Keene and the friendliness of the people who live within it. Over the years I have been contacted by other colleges even at the Division I level to apply for positions at their institutions because of my success as a college coach but I have no interest. I am happy here at Keene State and job satisfaction is very important to me.” For Lyons, selecting KSC as her choice college was a very easy decision.
“Keene State actually chose me. Every four years as per NCAA rules you are allowed to take the team (KSC) to play out of the country, so back in 1985 Keene State traveled to Ireland to play. The Keene State soccer coach at the time was Dave Lombardo who was also the director of Admissions at Keene State. I played against the Keene State team at home in Ireland and after the game Coach Lombardo asked me if I was interested in playing/studying in the USA,” Lyons said.
“He offered me a scholarship to come to the USA, at that time Keene State was a Division II college. I jumped at the opportunity as back in those days there wasn’t a whole lot of opportunities for women in sports. “
Being a former KSC athlete, and a current KSC coach, Lyons has had many wonderful experiences. Even some she will never forget.
“I have many memorable moments as both a player and as a coach. One that sticks out was my senior year playing in the NCAA Division II semifinal game in Florida against California State Dominguez Hills,” Lyons said.
“As a coach, winning the Little East Conference Championships and going to the NCAA tournament were all good and exciting memories, as well as winning the ECAC championship several times. I have been blessed over the years to have good hard working players who want to push themselves, to be the best that they can.”
Being the women’s soccer coach allows Lyons to develop many deep relationships with her players. It also allows her to exercise her unique coaching style.
“As a coach I believe it is very important to get to know your players and find out what motivates each of them. Each individual is different and they respond differently. Shouting at one player could motivate her to work harder whereas shouting at another will make her lose confidence and not perform well, so understanding each player’s personality plays an important role in bringing out the best in players,” Lyons said.
“I am a true believer in having a good work ethic, you practice how you play. I am a firm believer in pushing yourself to be the best you can do. I cannot and will not put up with a lazy player. There is no room on my roster for that type of player. Those that perform and work hard in practices are the players who will play on game day.”
For Lyons, Keene State will always have a place in her heart. “I have seen Keene State College change and grow since I was a student here in the late ‘80s. The campus is beautiful and modern, and a lot of money has been put into the campus to improve in all areas from the actual buildings/facilities to the wide range of degrees that are offered,” Lyons said.
“I like the type of student that Keene State attracts. I believe that playing on a college team teaches students lifelong lessons and skills, such as good time management, being a team player, being responsible, being on time, supporting your teammates, being a role model to name just a few.”
Aside from having her athletes be responsible and on time, Lyons prides herself in knowing that her players are some of KSC’s best.
“Monitoring players progress in the classroom is very important to me as number one players are students first hence student-athlete. I take pride in the fact that the Keene State women’s soccer team can boast of having the highest GPA among all 17 sports at Keene State for the last four consecutive years with a cumulative GPA of 3.558 showing that they can juggle the demands of a tough rigorous soccer schedule with balancing the demands of a strong academic classroom schedule,” Lyons said. Overall Lyons is very thankful for her experiences here at KSC.
“Keene State College has given me so much, a valued education, wonderful working colleagues and friends, all of which I will be forever grateful for. The only thing I miss is having my family here with me. My mother and two sisters, along with nephews and nieces, all still live in Ireland. I wish they were living in Keene with me, although it gives me an excuse to go home to Ireland every year to visit them which I thoroughly enjoy.”
Lauren Campbell can be contacted at email@example.com