A former Payson High School soccer standout has been chosen the new Lady Longhorns head soccer coach.
Trae Dunman takes over for Amy Wilcox who resigned her position last spring after serving three years as head coach of the PHS girls program.
In 2010, Wilcox’s first year at the helm of the soccer program, she led the team to the state tournament after winning a three-way playoff in Snowflake.
Dunman takes over coaching reins with plenty of on-the-field experience having played four years at Payson High School for three different coaches — Austin White, Chad Gower and current coach Chris Avakian.
Dunman said he picked up bits and pieces of knowledge from all three and will combine them into his own coaching philosophy.
In 2009, Dunman was named to the East All-Region soccer second team and was cited by Avakian as the “offensive player who got everything started.”
Dunman also played basketball at Payson High and was on the 2001 Payson Little League 9-10-year-old all-star team that came up one run short of reaching the state tournament.
Last basketball season, Dunman coached the PHS freshman girls and in soccer has served stints as an assistant varsity and head jayvee boys coach.
Coaching the girls soccer team will be his first head coaching assignment.
“I’m really excited and looking forward to the challenge of finally being a head coach,” Dunman said.
The new coach is confident his youth and the fact he graduated from PHS only four years ago will be an asset. “As a younger coach I can relate to the players and better understand what they are going through.
“Also they will probably be more comfortable with me, which will allow me to build a good relationship with them.”
Dunman had the opportunity last week to preview his players during pickup play at Rumsey Park and will this week host a soccer camp from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays on the south field at Rumsey.
Formal practices kick off at 4 p.m., Monday, Aug. 12.
His goal during the pre-season sessions is more than teaching skills, “I want to get more girls interested; get more players out for the team.
For the 2013 season, Dunman must find replacements for the seniors — Liz Harpe, Natalie Moceri, Nidia Mega, Macy Dailey and Chelsea Frewin — who graduated last spring and were the nucleus of the 2012 team that finished the season 6-6 and came up just a few power points short of reaching the playoffs.
In the Lady Horns’ final game of the 2012 season, a 5-1 win over Arizona College Prep, the seniors scored all the PHS goals.
Dunman didn’t want to single out any returning players for comment until he’s had a chance to coach them, but did indicate he’s counting on Savannah Grassel to become a team leader and force to reckon with.
Dunman has not yet settled on the offense and defense he will use this year, choosing instead to wait and evaluate his players before making those decisions.
“We’ll fit them (offense and defense) to the strengths of our team,” he said.
During Wilcox’s tenure she tipped off each season with an alumni vs. varsity game and picnic that was a hit throughout the community.
Dunman is unsure if he will continue the tradition and will wait until practices officially begin to make the decision.
In addition to coaching, Dunman is a teaching aide at Rim Country Middle School and is taking online classes from Grand Canyon University to eventually earn a degree in education.
His goal is to become a math teacher.
The new coach would like this season to field a junior varsity team, but as yet there have been no applicants for the coaching position.
Anyone interested should call Dunman at (928) 474-4511.