After another incredible football season, the Grand Valley State University women’s football team bid farewell to their second head coach in the past two years, Jim Conlon.
Coming to GVSU to replace coach Jeff Hosler after seven years, Conlon started with the Lakers at the start of the 2021 fall season to win the teams’ seventh NCAA DII National Championship. Before coming to GVSU, Conlon coached the University of Washington DIII Bears to three national championships, making his success last season after the move to DII even sweeter.
The roster Conlon inherited from Hosler was a huge factor in that success, highlighted by senior midfielder Cecilia Steinwascher, a four-time All-America and All-Region First-Team winner and United Soccer Coaches National Player of the Year. She is also a three-time recipient of the GLIAC Defensive Player of the Year – the first in GLIAC history to receive the award three times. For her performance last season, she was a finalist for the prestigious DII Honda Athlete of the Year Award.
The team’s 24-1-2 overall record has been helped by junior forward Greta DeLoach’s 20 goals this season, Kennedy Bearden’s 15, redshirt freshman Taylor Reid’s seven , among many other top contributors to this season’s elite roster. The team also managed to achieve 18 shutouts, leading the entire NCAA for the 2021 season.
With great success in his inaugural season with the Lakers, Conlon’s decision to step down as head coach again came as a surprise to the team, albeit due to mental health issues with Conlon’s family. The GVSU community has shown great support for his difficult decision.
“I’ve had an incredible experience working at this university and with outstanding young women, coaches and administrators,” Conlon said in his official announcement. “I will always cherish the relationships I made and cherish the experience and memories of my short stay here.”
As the fourth coach in the history of the GVSU football program, Conlon took the reins of an already stellar team season, allowing the Lakers to do the job they knew they had to, yet leaving a legacy despite his short term stay.
“To arrive four days before the start of the season and culminate it with a national championship speaks volumes about his ability to bring a team together, coach the football and develop a culture of resilience,” said director of sport Keri Becker. . in the press release. “We are disappointed to lose him but respect his decision to put his family above all else.”
Looking ahead to next season, the non-graduating Lakers must welcome another new head coach as well as their influx of new recruits. However, their continued success as a program is sure to rebound again.
“This program is special, and I’m excited to see it continue to grow in the future and I’m proud to be a part of its legacy,” Conlon said.
For the offseason, the Lakers have until September before the start of their new season. In the meantime, the GVSU athletic department is looking for another head coach for the program who can lead the fierce and feisty football team to another winning season.