Dan Palmer, Head Women’s Soccer Coach


Photo courtesy of OC Athletics

Head Women’s Soccer Coach Dan Palmer.

Head women’s soccer coach Dan Palmer has led the women’s soccer team to some of its best seasons ever, including the most successful four year stretch in team history between 2014 and 2017. Despite his impressive résumé, Palmer and the Yeowomen struggled this season, posting a 4-14-1 record. Still, Palmer is excited about the future of the program. While he is known for his work with the team, Palmer is also widely active in other aspects of campus life. Palmer currently works with the horseback riding class and has taught financial classes to student-athletes, in addition to many other activities. The former North Central College wrestler has come a long way from his days as a Theater major.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Is it true you were a Theater major?

I entered college expecting to major in Accounting and Sociology and become an FBI agent. I ended up majoring in Speech and Theater. I have a master’s in Speech and here I am.

What made you change your major?

A couple of things. So, I grew up in the west suburbs of Chicago, and once I got to college I realized that there was a lot more to the world than I had experienced. And I thought that, as a law enforcement agent, I [would be] too naive and might get myself or somebody else killed. So I didn’t think that was a good career path. And then I just started taking classes. I enjoyed it and I really enjoyed Speech and Theater. I didn’t have a plan for a career when I entered it, but I enjoyed it and so I pursued it.

Do you still do anything related to theater now?

No, I don’t have any time.

What is your background in athletics?

I was a college wrestler. I was a national-class wrestler. So, a pretty good athlete. My high school gained soccer the year after I graduated, but they announced that they were going to have it. So, I was allowed to just come out and kick a ball around. And then, [in college], I came out [for soccer], sat for two or four games, and played one year in college.

What made you get into coaching soccer?

I did not plan on that as a career. I had graduated from school and knew some Oberlin graduates. The athletic director just came up to me and said, “We’re going to make our soccer position full-time and I think that you would be great for it. Are you interested?” And that was my interview. So, apparently, he saw things in me as an athlete that he thought would be good qualities to be a coach and develop a program. And so, I wasn’t thinking about it. I was planning on getting my Ph.D. in Speech and becoming a college professor, but fate just kind of took a different turn.

What did you think about this past season with your team?

It was disappointing and I don’t think anybody thinks otherwise. It was just an unfortunate set of circumstances and we couldn’t find the right combination of things to make it go better. But the players competed well. And they always work hard and compete hard, and that part of it is always very enjoyable. But I think we’ve got a pretty good nucleus of players returning and in recruiting, so I think we’ve improved ourselves. So we’re very optimistic about the future.

What are your goals for next season?

It will be a disappointment if we don’t qualify for the [North Coast Athletic Conference] tournament, so, that. Then, you know, go as far as we possibly can for sure.

It’s rumored that you have a unique alcohol policy for players. Care to elaborate?

Interesting. I don’t know. I mean, our team policy is no alcohol within 48 hours of a contest. I mean, it’s pretty much a universal Athletics Department policy. I don’t know if anyone has a stricter one. You know, if people choose to drink, whether they are violating team policy or state or federal law, I just expect them to be forthcoming about it. If they get written up, I’m going to find out about it ultimately, and I prefer to hear it from them rather than through other resources.

We’ve heard that you’re connected to the Equestrian team. Is that true?

Wow, there’s a lot of rumors going around. So, no, I am not. I am the instructor of record of the Equestrian class through [the Athletics department], but the class is actually taught by Rick Weitzel who runs a stable about a mile outside of town. So I coordinate the organization of the registration and all that, making sure that the class has what they need to go. But Rick is responsible for teaching that and he actually coaches our Equestrian club.

Is there anything else around campus that you’re involved in that we don’t know about?

Yeah. I am very passionate about trying to help our students, student-athletes in particular, in preparing for life beyond Oberlin. And so, once or twice a spring, I conduct a financial literacy course for any [fourth-year] athletes that want to attend and just to try to help them navigate the financial world once they enter the workforce.

How long have you been doing that for?

Three years. And, I’ve also been on the dining committee but I am no longer in those capacities.

Are there any more rumors you’d like to squash?

I don’t know what other rumors are out there. I will share that I’m very passionate about Oberlin College and in the opportunities here for students in the community. When I applied for the job, this last time that I was hired was actually the third time I applied for the job. So I’ve been very interested in and excited about Oberlin for quite a long time.