If anyone can be considered an authority on soccer in Dallas, it is Schellas Hyndman.
Hyndman joined the SMU family in 1984 and spent 26 years as SMU’s men’s soccer coach. While on the hilltop, Hyndman quickly became one of the most successful NCAA soccer coaches of all time. Boasting an all-time collegiate record of 466-122-49, eight league coach of the year and five regional coach of the year honors, Hyndman is one of the greatest coaches in any sport.
In many ways, the soccer program that SMU has today is the “House that Hyndman built.”
“I planted Westcott field,” Hyndman said.
Keep in mind that there were two Westcott fields and oddly enough; Hyndman was at SMU for the construction of both.
The first field was planted in the ’90s it was named after Kyle Westcott because of his large donations towards the field was put in well by most standards, but SMU was unable to maintain it. Equipped with lights and natural grass, it was a gift from the soccer gods.
For the longest time, SMU was unable to host home games at Ownby Stadium, the previous field, because it was made of astro-turf.
“Westcott field was much better than the turf of Ownby and it helped us not only in the way we wanted to play soccer but it helped us really in recruiting,” said Hyndman. “A lot of players weren’t going to come to SMU if it was on artificial turf. Also, at that time the NCAA selection committee wouldn’t let you host any games on astro-turf. They called the facilities, ‘below standard.’ I know we hosted a few games, but it was very difficult to do so.”
Westcott was so difficult to maintain because of the overuse of the field.
In the spring, track events dominated the field’s time. SMU has always been “land locked” as Hyndman said, so the field never received the proper maintenance.
It was difficult to have two very successful sports share the same facility and then the addition of women’s soccer added a third program into the mix.
Rather quickly, Westcott became a disaster. For Hyndman, it couldn’t have been a greater disappointment.
“I remember we played St. Louis University, to go to the college Cup and it was pouring rain and the field wouldn’t drain,” said Hyndman. “Because the field wouldn’t drain, it was a mud game, that I feel we could have won, but the game was moved to another field in the last ten minutes of overtime. We ended up losing the game on penalty kicks. It was really sad for us.”
SMU put in a fundraiser to re-do Westcott field- the one we know today.
“If you look at it today, it may be one of the best fields in the country,” said Hyndman. “It is maintained extremely well, and I think a lot of people don’t realize that when you put something in of that quality you have to match that quality with maintenance.”
Hyndman’s fondest memories of the ‘New Westcott,’ deal with his team’s ability to dominate opponents at home.
“We played so well that we were in a position where we were capable of going to the final four in the national championships,” Hyndman said. “I’ve seen a lot of things happen at SMU probably one of the few coaches that was there through the death penalty and seen how we out grew that. My affection and my heart are with SMU, because really so many good things happened in my life while I was there.”
Hyndman’s departure from SMU in 2008 solidified the then young relationship between FC Dallas and SMU.
“I have been fortunate enough to work under Coach Schellas Hyndman twice,” said current SMU Men’s soccer coach Tim McClements. “He is a great mentor and great friend who made an incredible impact on my career as a coach.”
FC Dallas has three former SMU players on the team. Ramon Nunez and Ugo Ihemelu are on the roster while TJ Nelson is an unsigned draft pick.
“I developed a lot as a player and a person at SMU so I owe a lot to the school,” said Ihemelu. “FC Dallas and SMU feels like one big family there are so many connections between the two [organizations].”
Nelson was taken by FC Dallas in the 2013 supplemental draft but hasn’t earned a contract with the team yet. However, he trains and travels with the team regularly.
Ihemelu and Nelson spent four years at SMU, while Nunez was at the Hilltop for only one. Despite his short tenure as a Mustang, Nunez says SMU was a huge part of his development as a player.
In mid-April, Hyndman passed Dave Dir for most points by a coach in FC Dallas History.
Hyndman stresses that the road has not been easy.
“We put a lot into it; myself, the staff and the players. Nobody gets any awards in this environment without the players,” said Hyndman After a the 2-0 victory over the Toronto Whitecaps on April 20.
Always humble, Hyndman has a refreshing perspective on his success.
He said, “I am very thankful and I think I’m blessed to be doing what I love.”