Head coach of the Concordia University women’s soccer program for six seasons, Greg Henson has announced his resignation. On Tuesday (July 9), NCAA Division II Ferris State University introduced Henson as its new head women’s soccer coach. Henson now gets set to head to Big Rapids, Mich., after elevating Concordia women’s soccer to a level never before reached in school history. The Concordia University Athletics Department search for a new head women’s soccer coach is now underway.
Director of Athletics Devin Smith appointed Henson to his post at Concordia in June of 2013. Just over a year later, Henson guided the program to both its first ever GPAC tournament title and NAIA national tournament appearance.
Said Smith, “Coach Henson made a major impact within our athletics department throughout his six years and I want to express a heartfelt thank you. His accomplishments are evident both on and off the field. Greg built a program that has become known as one of the best in the GPAC and in the region and one of national relevancy. Beyond the conference championships and impressive win-loss records, Greg helped steer his student-athletes down a path for success in leading, learning and service. Speaking for the athletic department, we will greatly miss Coach Henson but wish God’s richest blessings upon him in his new role at Ferris State.”
In turn, Henson says goodbye with a great appreciation for the student-athletes, co-workers and community members he interacted with during his six years in Seward.
“I would like to thank the entire Concordia community for its unwavering support over the past six years,” Henson wrote. “A special thank you goes out to Devin Smith for believing in me and the vision that I had for the women’s soccer program. None of our success would be possible without the dedication and sacrifice of my assistant coaching staff and players. I have been blessed to coach some outstanding young women during the last six years and I look forward to watching this program continue to achieve new heights. Concordia will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Henson’s tenure was a remarkable one. The program had never experienced more than 11 wins in a single season until the St. Louis, Mo., native found his way to Nebraska. From the 2013 through 2018 seasons, Henson went a combined 83-28-16 (.717), including a 43-14-8 mark in league games, won two GPAC tournament titles (2014, 2016) and a conference regular season championship (2017). The 2014 and 2016 squads both appeared in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round. The program enters 2019 having advanced to the GPAC tournament final five years running.
The sheer numbers are impressive, but the story runs deeper. In 2014, the expectations were low for Bulldog women’s soccer. Henson made believers of a team led by many strong-willed seniors. They won games they weren’t supposed to, like in a momentous 2-1 home upset of then 16th-ranked Hastings in late October. A couple of weeks later, first team All-GPAC choice Rachel Mussell and company did the unthinkable in defeating mighty Hastings again, this time in the GPAC tournament championship game on the Broncos’ home turf.
“Is this real? Did that really just happen?” Henson wondered aloud in the immediate aftermath. A senior at the time, Marcie Sindt commented, “It’s definitely surreal. This was always the goal. Good things happen when you have really good leadership. I’m proud of the girls. I’m proud of the fight. It’s pretty crazy.”
At that point, Concordia women’s soccer had arrived. It achieved its first-ever NAIA national ranking. From 2014 on, the Bulldogs never dipped below 13 wins in any single season. Henson always seemed to know which button to push and how to get his team to believe even when the opposition was perceived to have greater talent. Henson’s tenure also saw some of the largest soccer crowds recorded at Concordia in recent years, like when the Bulldogs enjoyed the privilege of hosting the GPAC tournament final in 2016 and 2017. They celebrated a postseason championship over Morningside in front of the home fans in 2016 with the east bleachers bursting with supporters.
Henson’s style has been one without nonsense, and the players respected it. Said Mussell of Henson a couple years after her collegiate career, “He just tells you how it is. He wanted to take the program where it was supposed to be. I think it was really cool for him to come in and say, ‘We’re going to make this happen.’ What he said, he did.”
Following the high of 2014, the Maria Deeter era began in 2015. The signing of the Seward native signaled the program was here to stay. Deeter was one of the stars of the 2016 GPAC tournament championship team and the 2017 squad that posted a nearly spotless 9-0-1 GPAC record while surrendering just one goal in conference play behind GPAC Defensive Player of the Year Lindsey Carley. A Henson coached team could never be counted out. Even with Deeter sidelined in the 2018 postseason and the Bulldogs about to face eventual national quarterfinalist Midland on the road, Henson’s squad rose to the occasion. Concordia earned a 1-0 victory over the Warriors and marched on to yet another GPAC championship game.
Deeter will always be thankful for the four years she played for Henson. It was an unforgettable time for Deeter and a historic time for the program. While Henson moves on, the program is undoubtedly in a better position than he found it in.
Wrote Deeter, “Greg devoted much of his time and energy to Concordia women’s soccer. To say he turned the program around would be an understatement. Look no further than the season records before and during his tenure here and it speaks for itself. One thing that will always stick with me from playing under Coach Henson is to demand excellence from yourself and those around you. Even if that meant getting yelled at any time you would turn the ball over in the middle of the field. When that mindset is bought into by the entire team, special things can happen, just as we have seen over the past six years as Greg led the program. He has a great understanding of the game, and there’s no surprise he has earned this new opportunity. I’m very happy for coach. What he did for bulldog women’s soccer will not be forgotten.”