Former Palisade, Fruita SB coach Jamie Dunn new head coach at Minnesota college
She wanted to give coaching at the college level a try.
After one year as an assistant at Colorado Christian University, Grand Junction native Jamie Dunn is now the head coach at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minn.
“It was kind of interesting how everything worked out,” Dunn said. “I came (to Denver) to learn how to be an assistant coach. More than anything it made me realize I wanted to be a head coach. I thought I’d go for it and give it a try. Sure enough, it worked.
“It’s an amazing opportunity. They have good kids and won in the past.”
She becomes the 10th head coach in Southwest Minnesota State history and also will teach, she said. Dunn begins her duties July 1.
Dunn, 34, replaces Missy Bruggeman, who was the head coach the past two seasons. The Mustangs have won 10 conference titles and made four NCAA Division II tournament appearances since 2006.
“For now, this is a great opportunity,” Dunn said. “They are so nice. Marshall is a small community. I’ve seen Grand Junction before Starbucks, and all the big stores came in. The university is the focus of the community.
“There is a lot of support for the university there. I’m thrilled. Some people don’t get these breaks. It’s incredible.”
Dunn, a Central High graduate, knew she wanted to teach and coach since her playing days at then Mesa State College, where in 2000 she led the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference in home runs and RBI, leading the Mavericks to the Division II World Series and earning All-America honors. Dunn was chosen Mesa’s female athlete of the year in 2002. She hit .362 with 44 home runs, 40 doubles and 174 RBI in her college career.
Dunn started her coaching career at Palisade High School immediately after she finished her college playing career in 2002, leading the Bulldogs to three Class 4A state tournament appearances and one Western Slope League title. After four seasons, she took over the Fruita Monument High School program and led the Wildcats to a 59-11 record in three seasons, including three Class 5A state tournament appearances and two Southwestern League titles.
“I played in the (Division II) World Series and had a taste of that,” Dunn said. “When I started this whole thing, I had my first coaching offer before I was done playing at Mesa. I accepted the job, graduated in May and started in August. I’ve learned a lot. Once I was at Fruita, I decided I wanted to try (the college level).”
She kept in touch with her coach at Mesa State, Kris Mort, who is now an associate athletic director. Dunn credits Mort for helping her get the job with Southwest Minnesota State.
“I’ve been in touch with Mort a lot,” Dunn said. “She encouraged me. I appreciate her. I want to do that someday for my (players). I already have kids that played for me that are starting their careers.”
Dunn is Mort’s first former player to get a head coaching job at an NCAA institution, Mort recalled.
“We had a lot of conversations,” Mort said. “I told her I wouldn’t go anywhere that is a career suicide being a female coach or budgetary. I did encourage her to keep her options open. You might not be close to home right now, but it’s about getting your foot in the door.”
Mort is confident Dunn will be successful.
“I think she has a great demeanor,” Mort said. “She is always cool, calm and collected. She never got out of control even when she was playing. She’s always had an even-keel temperament.
“We’ve talked a lot about her philosophy. I know what her mentality was as a player. I think she’s taken a lot of things she’s learned as a player and used a lot of those things. She’s developed a lot of things. She’s got great knowledge. She has a lot of passion. I think she’s got a contagious passion for wanting to be the best. I think she’ll get things done the right way. I think she understands it might be a while for her to coach a player as good as she was.
“She’ll make sure her players are students first. I think she gets it and will bring that to the table, then be the best they can be outside the classroom and in the playing arena.”