As a college coach, Mike Dibbini is no stranger to success. He’s achieved it at two different levels, in two separate states, and with swift turnaround.
In other words, he’s arguably the perfect candidate to build a program from the ground up at K-State as the university’s first-ever women’s soccer head coach.
Joined by Athletics Director John Currie, Dibbini was officially introduced as the head coach earlier this month. K-State landed the one-time KCAC Coach of the Year following a two-month coaching search that drew over 150 applicants.
In 10 seasons at the collegiate level, Dibbini has compiled an impressive 265-78-25 (wins, losses, draws) record along with 13 postseason tournament appearances and 12 conference coach of the year honors.
“Coach Dibbini won this job over tremendous competition,” Currie said at the press conference. “Our background work involved talking to former players, supervisors and other staff, whom all raved about his passion to teach, teach the game of soccer and his dramatic competitiveness and communication skills … We could tell that coach Dibbini was a perfect fit to build K-State’s soccer team from the ground up and into a Big 12 contender.”
The team won’t kickoff until the fall of 2016, but recruiting started as early as Jan. 6 according to Dibbini. Scholarships will be available to 14 players, with a total of 25-30 players on the roster.
“Recruiting above the level is one of my strengths, using my recruiting ties, getting out there, networking, building relationships, reconnecting relationships… I am very confident that we will be very competitive based on my experiences.” – Mike Dibbini
K-State is the last Big 12 school to add women’s soccer, but Dibbini said his experience at Kansas Wesleyan and Cal Poly Pomona gives him confidence in the building process. In just his second year at Cal Poly in 2014, Dibbini guided the Broncos to their best season in 15 years with a 15-6-1 record.
“At my previous institutions I have had success rebuilding or basically starting programs over,” Dibbini said. “Recruiting above the level is one of my strengths, using my recruiting ties, getting out there, networking, building relationships, reconnecting relationships – those relationships will help with the recruiting process with former coaches across the country that I have respect for and vice versa. I am very confident that we will be very competitive based on my experiences.”
Having spent 14 years at Wesleyan and Salina Central High School, Dibbini is no stranger to the Kansas recruiting scene. Those ties, he said he believes, will be fundamental in his staff’s pursuit of building a foundation and attracting talent nationally.
“You definitely want a lot of freshmen to help set the foundation but it really is also important to bring in some transfers so these freshmen can understudy and learn,” Dibbini said. “Transfers have that college experience and not having that college experience becomes difficult when they do not have that leadership to help them and guide them. Having a blend at the beginning will be something that we will achieve.”
But what can fans expect to see when recruiting is completed for the first season and the team finally kicks off? Dibbini was candid: goals.
“I am a very offensive-oriented type of coach so you will see a dynamic soccer team that possesses the ball but goes forward,” Dibbini said. “It is a style that attracts fans and we want the fans to enjoy it. We are going to get out and try to score a lot of goals but if we lose it we will defend together as a team and swarm to win the ball back. The outside back and defenders are going to be joining the attack. There will be a lot of transition soccer but also keeping the ball on the ground.”