MARSHALL - Southwest Minnesota State University, along with SMSU Director of Athletics Chris Hmielewski, announced on Friday that Jamie Dunn has been chosen as the head softball coach for the Mustangs.
Dunn will be the 10th head coach for the Mustangs, taking over for Missy Bruggeman after her two years at the helm of the program.
Dunn most recently completed her first season as an assistant coach at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colo. (a suburb of Denver). CCU is a Division II university competing in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. In just their second year as a program, the Cougars finished third in the 13-team RMAC with a record of 21-11.
"Jamie brings a track record of success both in her days as a student-athlete and head coach," Hmielewski said in an official release. "Her coaching philosophy is built around student-athlete success in the classroom, on the field and most importantly instilling the life skills our student-athletes will need to be successful in life after graduation. Jamie is an educator with a passion for the game of softball. We are excited about the future of SMSU softball under Jamie's leadership, and I would like to welcome her to the Mustang family."
Dunn, a native of Grand Junction, Colo., officially begins her duties on July 1 and said that the support of the surrounding community for SMSU drove her desire to take the reins of the Mustang softball program.
"While I was on campus for my interview, I just felt really comfortable there. I had a really good feeling about the community, and obviously the community supports the university a lot," Dunn said. "Living in Denver you don't have quite that same amount of support. You're just one university amongst many.
"I come from a small town. I was actually born and raised in Grand Junction, and we kind of had that same atmosphere there where the community supported all the high school events. We just have Colorado Mesa University there. I felt really good, felt kind of at home (in Marshall) coming from Grand Junction and being able to have the opportunity to coach in a smaller town was really exciting for me. Everybody was just so welcoming, the people I met in the community and the people at the university."
Before helping start the CCU program, Dunn spent three seasons (from 2009-11) as the head softball coach at Fruita Monument High School in Grand Junction, leading the team to a 59-11 record. Fruita Monument qualified for three Class AAAAA state tournaments and won two conference championships under Dunn. She was named the Southwestern League Coach of the Year in 2010. Dunn began her coaching career at Palisade High School, also in Grand Junction, leading her squad to three Class AAAA state tournament appearances and one conference title in four seasons.
"Most of my experience just comes from being a head coach at the high school level," Dunn said. "I knew that if I was going to pursue a career coaching at the collegiate level I would need to gain experience at the collegiate level. For me, personally, it was to come here (CCU) and kind of learn what that was about. Daven Bond's done a good job of starting the program. He has an idea of what that looks like for him and in the back of my mind I had an idea of what my program would look like. The experience that I got from recruiting, and with the NCAA and compliance things; building relationships with potential student-athletes, there are a lot of different experiences that I can bring to SMSU and build on from there."
Dunn had a remarkable playing career at Colorado Mesa University from 2000-02. She earned three All-RMAC honors, while leading the conference in RBIs and home runs in her first year. That same season, Dunn and CMU qualified for the Division II Women's College World Series and picked up an NFCA All-American honor in the process.
Having spent nearly all of her collegiate career in the RMAC, Dunn said that the unique challenges of coaching in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference also attracted her to the SMSU job.
"I played and then coached in the RMAC and in the past we've had teams that have qualified for the regional tournament," Dunn said. "I was fortunate enough to play at (Colorado Mesa University), where we did that all three years I played there and also the (Women's College) World Series, but the Northern Sun is a very well respected conference in every sport and especially softball.
"I know they qualified three teams last year for the regional and we're just going to take it one day at a time, small steps, and our goal is to first qualify for the conference tournament and go from there," she added. "To be able to coach in a conference that is so competitive and so well represented and respected across the country is an honor."
Along with her softball pedigree, Dunn also possesses a strong focus on community and education. As a result, she knows exactly what she is looking for in future recruits.
"At the Division II level I think the focus is maybe a little different than at a Division I level or even a junior college. I want to attract kids who have that dream of playing collegiate softball, but also are good student-athletes," Dunn said. "I think it's important to attract those kids that are well rounded and really understand what it takes to excel in the classroom. Division II athletes aren't going on to play professional fastpitch softball. The kids that I can bring in that have good study habits, good communication skills, are good people and want to give back to their community, hopefully we can bring the program to the next level."
Dunn began her playing career in 1998 at Ft. Lewis College, earning honorable mention All-RMAC honors before transferring to CMU. Her career totals include a .362 batting average with 44 home runs, 40 doubles and 174 RBIs.
Dunn graduated from Colorado Mesa University in 2002, while earning her master's degree from CCU in 2008.
SMSU finished 19-21 last season and finished 12th in the 16-team Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.