After growing up surrounded by Otterbein soccer, Mackenzie Koons, a freshman mathematics major, now plays for the women's soccer team under the guidance of her own father, Brandon Koons.
Mackenzie grew up with her father coaching the Otterbein women's soccer team. She was born one year after her father, Brandon, got the job as head coach. According to her, she's always had the goal of playing for the women’s soccer team in mind.
“Now I’m training at Otterbein and wearing an Otterbein jersey. I mean, that's all I’ve ever wanted, but it’s also very different from what it has been,” said Mackenzie. “A lot of people have been asking if it's weird to be coached by your dad, but it's not. He’s coached me a lot when I was younger and I’ve been around him, so I'm used to it."
Brandon took over the women’s soccer program in 1999 after serving four years as an assistant coach for the men’s soccer team. He saw almost immediate success, leading the Cardinals to a then-school record of nine wins.
Brandon said having his daughter on the team is different, because in his eyes, this is the last stop for many players.
“Most people won’t go on from here and play professionally, so for her as a young kid, this was always her goal," said Brandon. "Now that investment and time are put into it, the goals are a bit different. She’s still my kid, but it's different than when she was little."
Both Koons' said their dynamic on and off the field hasn’t changed much.
“I’ve always been worried [whether] people would see me as a teammate or a coach's daughter, and it’s very much a teammate role,” said Mackenzie. “When we see each other at practices or games, it’s very much [like] I’m just a member of the team, and he’s my coach.”
Mackenzie joins a team who’s had a successful history under the leadership of Brandon. In his 20 years as head coach, Brandon has led the program to eight Ohio Athletic Conference championships and six appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament.
Mackenzie said she wants to contribute to the team as much as possible.
“I am so happy right now to just be here, and I’m always going to work as hard as I can, and whatever my role ends up being, I’m going to embrace it,” said Mackenzie.
The Cardinals are currently 5-2 for the season and will host the University of Mount Union on Saturday at 7 p.m.