NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Coaching wasn't something Valerie Tysinger ever considered once her playing days were done. She saw herself destined for missionary work, traveling and dedicating herself to service and community development.
But conversations with friends, teammates and coaches began to paint a different picture, one that would eventually bring "Val" to Belmont as the women's soccer program's newest assistant coach this year. A good teammate can make such a positive impact on a player, so imagine the way a coach could influence lives.
"It was so obvious," Tysinger recalled of her reaction then. "God totally changed my heart. I was supposed to go into coaching."
Tysinger, a Daytona Beach, Fla., native and graduate of Florida, was hired by Belmont Head Coach Heather Henson last month to help coach the goalkeepers, the position she played at Florida from 2012-16. She also patrolled the net for two seasons as a member of the Charlotte Eagles of the United Soccer League's W-League, a semi-professional team operated by Missionary Athletes International.
A connection formed in Charlotte helped Tysinger land her first job in coaching in 2017 under head coach Kelsey Fenix at nearby Trevecca Nazarene University. The Trojans went 8-6-3 last year under their watch.
A desire to build up those around her is at the heart of what Tysinger considers the greatest strength she brings to the Bruins in 2018.
"What I love about coaching or being a teammate is being able to see the glory that God has placed in others and helping it come to life," she said. "I believe positivity and emphathy create a safe space for people to thrive.
"I think with goalkeepers it's even more crucial, because it's such a vulnerable position when it comes to failure," Tysinger continued. "I think it's a role that really needs more empathy, because you can get thrown in the corner and forgotten about until you're expected to come up with a big save."
It's more than just keepers Lily Herman and Abby Hunt whom Tysinger will work with this year though. She'll play a key role on the coaching staff that includes veterans Henson and associate head coach Travis Fravel, both now in their eighth seasons with Belmont.
The Bruins will open their regular season at home against crosstown rival Lipscomb on Friday at Rose Park. The match begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be available to stream through the OVC Digital Network.