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New soccer coach ready to bring her best game

The Mills College soccer team is proud to welcome Lilia Dosalmas as their new head coach.

This year, Dosalmas has become the new head soccer coach after serving as interim head coach during the previous season. Now, Dosalmas is focusing on the sport with an emphasis on the mental aspect.

Lilia Dosalmas is Mills' new soccer head coach. She was Mills' interim soccer coach last year. (Calli Storrs)
Lilia Dosalmas is Mills’ new soccer head coach. She was Mills’ interim soccer coach last year. (Calli Storrs)

“I enjoy helping student athletes find their voices,” Dosalmas said. “It’s a space where you are allowed to be strong and physical, and compete.”

Dosalmas grew up in a family that loved soccer. She started playing organized soccer at age 5, and eventually started coaching a local high school team while she was in college. Dosalmas eventually took a break from coaching to focus on administrative work in the Santa Barbara County Alcohol and Drug Prevention Programs. Although Dosalmas knew that her work was important, she eventually realized that she needed a more active lifestyle and went back to coaching student athletes. She attended a program at UC Berkeley to get her teaching credentials.

“Choosing coaching as a career was pivotal,” Dosalmas said. “I have so much respect for coaching.”

Before coming to Mills, Dosalmas coached for Merritt College, and according to Merrit College’s website she coached the Albany High School women’s soccer program. She has lead Albany to TCAL Rock Division Championships in 2013 to 2014, earning honors there, and received the TCAL Division MVP Offensive players of the season for four seasons in a row. In addition, Dosalmas coached the Golden Gate Women’s Soccer League in San Francisco, and was awarded the EBISOA Referee’s Association Coach in 2013.

This season, Dosalmas aims to prevent the number of goals scored by opponents from reaching double digits. She hopes her players will learn how to leave a space better than when they entered it, whether its the field or elsewhere. She approaches the coaching process with patience, meeting players where they are, and accepting that there are some aspects of the game that you cannot control.

Senior Alex Miller has been on Mills’ soccer team for all four of her years.

“One thing I really respect about Lilia is her honesty in her uncertainty,” Miller said. “If she doesn’t know something, she’s not one to hide it.”

Miller added that Dosalmas will try to work with the students come to a solution.

“She has a way of getting things done without being so serious all the time,” Miller said.

Most importantly, Dosalmas wants her athletes to focus on balancing their academics and athletics. Because Mills is Division III school, it provides more time for academics. She believes that her soccer team can be both great athletes and students.

“They’re set in this binary: athlete, scholar, you’re on either end of it.” Dosalmas said. “I want to destroy that, demystify that binary.”

Dahlia Pimentel, a sophomore who joined the team last year finds that, while Dosalmas and the previous soccer coach Laura VanWart both expected the players to perform at their best, Dosalmas has connected more with the team.

“Lilia’s a lot more personal with the players,” Pimentel said. “She makes sure we have fun.”

One of the ways that Pimentel noticed how Dosalmas created a good team atmosphere was though her planned team-bonding events. She also appreciated when, at the beginning of the season, all the players participated in an exercise and came up with expectations for the team and for Dosalmas.

“She gets very intense, but in a very inspiring way,” Pimentel said. “She makes me want to work harder, so I do.”

Besides being the head soccer coach, Dosalmas is also the community engagement coordinator for APER. She wants to bring people together by building events for non-athlete students to get involved in what the department has to offer.

“I’m finding at Mills, the students are driven by curiosity and what moves them,” Dosalmas said.