Iowa soccer program using Alumnae Committee to connect current and former players

The committee was formed in order to help former Iowa players feel more connected with the program they had put so much time and effort into.


Wyatt Dlouhy

Iowa Head Coach Dave DiIanni speaks to the team during the Iowa versus Ohio State game at the University of Iowa Soccer Complex on Sunday, October 27, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Buckeyes 2-1 in double overtime.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter

When head coach Dave DiIanni arrived at Iowa six years ago after coaching at Grand Valley State for 11 years, he noticed that something was missing in terms of the connection between the Iowa soccer program and its alumnae.

“I was really looking for a way to create a family identity for our alumnae,” DiIanni said. “I found really quickly that this was not something that they felt like they had at the time, and that was actually really sad.”

One of the many responses to this that DiIanni and the soccer program have made is to form the Iowa Soccer Alumnae Committee.

The committee is made up of nine former players whose years on the Hawkeye soccer team are spread out across two- to three-year intervals, dating all the way back to the first year of the program in 1997.

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At its core, the role of the committee is to serve as an information chain between the current Iowa soccer program and its former members.

“What would they like to see, how would they like to be represented in our program, what are some ideas they have for Alumnae Weekend, how would they like to promote their profession to our current student-athletes,” DiIanni said. “Right now, a lot of it is information and idea-sharing, and then how do they want to best support the program.”

Another key function of the committee is to help current and future Hawkeye soccer players connect with alumnae after they graduate to gain information and opportunities as they move into a new stage of their lives.

The committee has created LinkedIn and Facebook pages among other tools in order to create a system where recent graduates and Iowa Soccer alumnae in general can stay connected with each other. It is also circulating a Google doc where alumnae list what their college major was when they were at Iowa, if they have pursued further education and what those degrees were, and what their job is and where they are now.

“Our hope is to create a network where if a recent graduate is moving to Chicago, she can look in the Chicago network and see that there are five or six alumnae there and this specific alumna went to law school, business school, etc. and she can then reach out to that alumnae member,” said Kelsie Full, a member of the committee and Iowa player from 2004-07.

Alumnae Weekend is an annual event during the fall season where former players are invited to return to their alma mater to reconnect with other alumnae and meet current players while enjoying activities put together for them.

The alumnae committee is set to have a heavy influence on this weekend in order to make it as enjoyable as possible for the alumnae and turn it into an important event for the fall season.

“We have set up coaching meet and greets and tours of the facilities, so that is really cool for some of the alumnae to come back and get engaged with some of the coaching staff they might not have played under,” said Stephanie Swanson, a committee member who played at Iowa from 2007-10. “We have also been talking about putting together an alumnae pickup game.”

DiIanni said the alumnae feel that coming to Iowa to play soccer is a four-year decision, but a 40-year investment.

The committee hopes to help the alumnae stay connected amongst themselves and with the program in order to feel prouder of that investment.

“A lot of the relationships you build with your teammates are kind of one of a kind, so it is something that you kind of have as a sisterhood of sorts,” Swanson said. “It really helps to drive a sustainable culture in the program when you have that bond and a level of consistency throughout the playing generations.”

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