On Nov. 14, Cal Poly Pomona’s head women’s soccer coach Jay Mason received the honor of the 2019 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Women’s Soccer Coach of the Year.
After four years of coaching the Broncos, Mason had his most successful season yet. Mason took the Broncos on a 13-win season, which almost triples the total number of wins from last season.
At 14 years old, Mason played as a goalkeeper for a small club in Canada and had a taste of coaching when his club would hold free clinics to teach younger goalkeepers.
His coach encouraged these clinics as an effort to give back and the rest was history.
After graduating summa cum laude from the University of the Incarnate Word in Texas with his bachelor’s of science in physical education in 2004, Mason then continued his education at the same university earning his master’s degree in kinesiology in 2006.
“As I was winding down my professional career, I stopped enjoying playing the way I used to,” Mason said. “I realized the thing that I loved about sports was the team itself, and the relationships that you build within that team, and the experiences you share with other people.”
With this season’s success, Mason emphasized that this year was special for him. Being able to see the players achieve their goals that they set was a special memory for him.
This past season, Mason and the other coaches took the team to Costa Rica and had a reflection book that one of the assistant coaches started. The players wrote little notes about the trip, things that they felt were important and memories.
Mason reflected on how it was memorable to see the players step out of their social bubble and to see another culture that they might’ve not seen if they weren’t playing collegiately.
“For me, the most impactful thing is to see the alumni at the games and talk to them, to see where they are professionally and personally,” Mason said. “Those things are the most rewarding for me.”
Mason has learned a lot from coaching at CPP, from the professional side to the personal.
“Being a coach is one of those professions where there’s so many different personalities and so many different challenges for each individual,” Mason said. “Trying to get a group of people to invest everything — emotionally, physically, mentally — into one goal is the exciting and challenging part of being a coach. I’ve learned a lot about people in general as far as how I can help them reach their potential, and help them grow.”
Besides coaching as Mason’s job title, there’s other aspects to what he has taught the players on the Cal Poly Pomona women’s soccer team.
“Ultimately, my job is to make sure (that) when they leave here, they are stronger than they were when they came in, more mature and that they are prepared for what life has in store for them,” Mason said. “We all know life doesn’t get any easier once we leave college and the decisions get heavier.”
With being able to coach such a successful team of hard-working women, Mason has made it important to the players to never stop working hard to reach their goals.
“I strongly believe we are tasked with the challenge of developing female leaders and we need more of them,” Mason said. “It’s great for me to see them taking the reigns and being confident. Soccer is kind of the vehicle that we’re allowed to drive as coaches and that allows us to teach those skills.”
Senior defender Cassidy Overstreet and senior forward Ambria Pogue both have been under Mason’s wing at CPP for more than three years. Overstreet and Pogue were two of the nine Broncos that earned spots on the All-CCAA Team this season.
Both Overstreet and Pogue said Mason’s award for Coach of the Year was well-deserved due to such a successful season this year.
“He just motivates all of us by always being there,” Pogue said. “He’s always in his office, always willing to help us out, always willing to talk with us on how to improve. I think that’s really motivating when you have a coach that’s willing to be there for whatever it takes to make you a better player and a better person.”
Mason has taught Overstreet a lesson she will take into life beyond the field.
“He always emphasizes us to be appreciative of everything that we have,” Overstreet said.
“Even though it’s not necessarily related to soccer, he would always make sure we were checking in (with) our family, our friends and loved ones.”
Going into next season, the women’s soccer team is expected to be a top contender for another season under Mason’s reign.
With the success from this season, Mason hopes to feed that to his following seasons to get the team to achieve its goals once again.
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