Having established himself as one of the most prominent coaches in the Central Region, John Hedlund has molded the Mean Green soccer program into one of the nation's elite. The only head coach in program history, Hedlund has ammased 280 career wins, which ranks 27th all-time among Division I head coaches.
Hedlund has had a winning season all 20 years at North Texas; only Anson Dorrance (North Carolina, 35 years) and John Daly (William & Mary, 27 years) have active streaks of more winning seasons at one school. Since 1995, Hedlund has led North Texas to a 280-111-25 record (70.3 percent), the ninth-best winning percentage among all active coaches nationally at just one school.
Hedlund continued his winning tradition in his 20th season with one of the best seasons in school history. The 2014 team tied a program record with 16 wins, set a single-season record with 14 shutouts and claimed its ninth conference championship with the regular-season title.
Altogether, Hedlund and NT have won nine total conference titles, most recently the 2014 Conference USA regular season title. He has led the Mean Green to six regular season titles, and three trips to the NCAA Tournament (2004, 2005, 2012). In fact, with the win in the 2012 Sun Belt title game Hedlund became just the 25th coach in NCAA Division I history to reach the 250 win plateau.
Hedlund guided the program into the Conference USA era in 2013, and earned the league's No. 2 seed and a trip to the C-USA title game. He followed that up in 2014 with another trip to the C-USA championship game.
Hedlund has coached 67 all-conference players since 1999, including the 2013 C-USA Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. His players have won three Sun Belt Player of the Year awards and four Sun Belt Freshmen of the Year awards. He has won three Sun Belt Coach of the Year awards, the latest in 2011. He has been recognized as the North Texas Coach of the Year by the Dallas Morning News and the Dallas All Sports Association, and the Greater Denton Sports Commission two years in a row.
Hedlund started the program from scratch in 1995 by implementing a game plan that emphasizes recruiting from the surplus of talent available in the Lone Star State. In his 18 years, the Mean Green has vaulted itself into one of the premier programs in the state of Texas.
In 2007, Hedlund led North Texas to its best start in school history with a 13-2 record through the first 15 games. Within the first 15 games the Mean Green had two six-game winning streaks for the first time in school history. North Texas reached the conference tournament championship game for the eighth straight season, a feat that has been unmatched by any other in the Sun Belt Conference.
Hedlund led the Mean Green to its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament and a school-record 16 wins in 2004. Hedlund equaled that performance by winning 16 games and leading the Mean Green to back-to-back SBC titles in 2005 and a second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. Hedlund was also named the 2005 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year. In 2005, North Texas set numerous school records and had the nation's third longest unbeaten streak at 15 games.
At home, North Texas has established a record of dominance with a record of 150-25-12, including a 73-12-6 mark in eight seasons at the Mean Green Soccer Complex.
Individually Hedlund brought out the best in forward Marilyn Marin as she turned in the best individual season in North Texas history in 2002. Marin led the nation in goals, points, and points per game. She ended her career with 214 career points, tied for 10th in NCAA history, 88 goals, eight in NCAA history, 2.70 points per game, tied for seventh in NCAA history, and 1.11 goals per game, tied for eighth in NCAA history.
His standard for success began in 2001 when he guided the Mean Green to the Sun Belt Conference's regular-season championship -- the program's first-ever soccer title -- and a 13-5 overall record.
In 13 years in the Sun Belt Conference the Mean Green earned the respect of the league's coaches. NT garnered 47 all-conference selections, including 35 first-team all-conference nods.
Marin and Kendall Juett are the only four-time all-conference selections in North Texas soccer history. Heather Hutyra became the second player at North Texas to the named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year. Under Hedlund's guidance, four of his players have also been chosen Freshman All-America, including Marin as a first team pick in 2000. Freshman Janaye Woods joined that list she was named the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year and named to the Freshman All-Region team in 2007.
Five women's soccer players have been inducted to the North Texas Athletic Hall of Fame. Krista Davey became the first soccer player to be inducted in 2005, followed by Christy Johnson in 2007 and Marilyn Marin in 2008. Melinda Pina was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2011, and Heather Hutyra joined them in 2013.
Under Hedlund, the Mean Green have also succeeded in the classroom, boasting an overall 3.4 team GPA in 2000 and twice being named the school's All-Academic Team in 1998 and 1999.
The team was recognized for its off-field accomplishments by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America as one of the recipients for the 2010 NSCAA Team Academic Award. The NSCAA annually hands out the academic honor to Division I schools whose team grade point average is a 3.0 or higher and the most recent accolade is for the 2009-10 academic year. The Mean Green, who posted a 3.30 team GPA in the spring of 2010 have now earned at least a 3.0 team GPA three years in a row. Additionally, the women's soccer team's APR (Academic Progress Report) has been ranked in the top 10% nationally three out of the last four years.
Hedlund's association with North Texas began in 1990 as an assistant men's soccer coach. He served briefly as the head coach of the men's program in 1994 before the university discontinued the sport.
In 1995, Hedlund concluded a 12-year professional playing career, in which he played defender for the United States Men's Olympic qualifying team (1983-84), the New York Express (1984-85), the Dallas Sidekicks (1986-87 and 1992-95) and the Dallas Rockets (1988-91).
In four seasons with the Sidekicks, he scored 15 goals in 78 games over four seasons, and ranks 19th in team history in shots blocked and 33rd in games played. He was a member of the 1986-87 and 1993 Sidekicks championship teams, blocking a total of 20 shots during his playoff career, the 12th-most in Sidekicks history. He scored five goals in the 1994 CISL playoffs for the Sidekicks, and ranks 20th in club history in playoff goals.
In the outdoor game, Hedlund played with the Richardson Rockets, who won the 1991 SISL Championship and reached the 1991 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final. Hedlund helped the Rockets reach new heights in American soccer by reaching the fourth round of the 1992 CONCACAF Champions Cup. The Dallas Rocketswere one of only three United States teams to reach the fourth round of the Champions Cup in the pre-Major League Soccerera (1969-1994), but fell in the fourth round to Club America in Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.He played with the United States Olympic team under Manfred Schellscheidt in the lead up to the 1984 Summer Olympics, but missed the Olympic Tournament due to injury. With the United States, Hedlund played tournaments in South Korea, Sweden, Finland and Malaysia.
A four-year letterwinner at Midwestern State University, Hedlund was twice voted to the NAIA All-America team in college. He scored 26 goals and added 12 assists, playing several different positions on the pitch. He was named the Most Valuable Player in the 1983 NAIA National Tournament, as he led the Mustangs to the championship game. He is a member of Midwestern State's Athletic Hall of Honor.
The Plano native holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Midwestern State and resides in Argyle with his wife, Julie, and sons Chad, whoplays football for Wake Forest,and Cole, who set the national high school football record in field goals made for Argyle High School in 2011.
Daniel Dobson returns for his second season as the top assistant on John Hedlun's coaching staff. After a successful run in Major League Soccer, Dobson started out as a part-time assistant at North Texas and moved into a full-time position in 2014.
Since Dobson joined the Mean Green, he has helped lead North Texas to a Sun Belt regular season and tournament title, an NCAA Tournament berth and a regular-season Conference USA title, most recently in 2014.
Dobson helped coach the Mean Green to one of the best seasons in school history in 2014. The 2014 team tied a program record with 16 wins, set a single-season record with 14 shutouts and claimed its ninth conference championship with the regular-season title. Rachel Holden, Karla Pineda and Jackie Kerestine received all-conference honors for their play in 2014.
In 2013, North Texas finished second in C-USA and advanced to the conference finals. Dobson helped coach the 2013 C-USA Offensive Player of the Year (Rachel Holden) and 2013 C-USA Defensive Player of the Year (Kelsey Hodges). Hodges went on to sign a professional contract with the Seattle Sounders Women in 2014.
As a player, Dobson was a standout for Memphis from 2001-04. He was named team captain for his senior year and led the Tigers win a C-USA regular season and tournament championship. He became the first Memphis product to sign a Major League Soccer contract, and spent time with both the Kansas City Wizards and Chivas USA.
After his playing career, Dobson has spent seven years coaching club, academy, high school and collegiate soccer squads throughout the Metroplex. This will be his third season with the Mean Green program.
Dobson is a graduate of Naaman Forest High School in Garland, Texas.
Fleur Benatar begins her second season as an assistant coach with the North Texas soccer program after serving as the director of operations in 2015. Benatar is a familiar face to the Mean Green. She is a former player (1996-97) and assistant coach (2000-01).
In 2016, Benatar helped lead the Mean Green to their third straight Conference USA regular-season conference title. The Mean Green went 9-1 in conference play, only the second time that a North Texas team has won nine league games. North Texas earned the No. 1 seed in the Conference USA Championship but ultimately lost in the semifinals.
Rachel Holden became just the third Mean Green player to earn all-conference honors four years in a two. The forward finished her career ranking in the top 10 at North Texas in goals and points.
Benatar has coaching experience throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area at the club level, with the Olympic Development Program (ODP) and with US Soccer.
As John Hedlund’s assistant, Benatar helped lead the 2001 North Texas team to the regular-season Sun Belt Conference Championship and a 13-5 record.
Benatar left North Texas in 2001 to start up the women’s soccer program at TWU. In her 11 years as the head coach of the Pioneers, Benatar compiled an overall record of 63-119-23.
Under Benatar’s direction, 47 TWU soccer student-athletes received All-Lone Star Conference honors, six earned All-South Central Region honors, 13 were named to the All-Lone Star Conference Academic Team and 54 received Commissioner’s Honor Roll. She also coached back-to-back LSC Academic Players of the Year in Aly Vincent-Evans in 2008 and Jacqueline Horner in 2009.
Benatar has 20 years of experience coaching club soccer. She is currently the head coach of the Liberty FC 99 team. She also has worked with the Sting Soccer Club, the Solar Soccer Club and Liverpool FC America.
For the last two years, she has worked as a staff coach for Region III of the Olympic Development Program where she evaluated, coached and mentored top soccer players in the region.
Benatar is also involved with soccer at the national level. Since 2013, she has been a national team training coach at the US Soccer’s Dallas Training Center.
She holds a U.S.S.F. National “A” Coaching License and is a state-level course instructor.
A graduate of Richardson (Tex.) High School, Benatar played college soccer for two seasons at the University of Arkansas before transferring to North Texas in 1996.
She received her undergraduate degree in kinesiology from North Texas in 1999 and her master’s degree in kinesiology in May 2002.
Benatar and her husband, Will, have a daughter, Gabrielle and two sons, Fletcher and Phillip.
The University of North Texas Soccer Camp Coaching Staff is made up of talented collegiate, olympic development, and high school coaches, who are assisted by current UNT Soccer Student Athletes.