Coach Salzmann-Dunn inspires women

It’s not everyday that a women’s college soccer coach, who spends most of the day out on a field, can come into a room of businesswomen and inspire them in their personal lives. But that is exactly what Sonoma State University Head Coach, Emiria Salzmann-Dunn, did. Monthly, the Rohnert Park Chamber of Commerce invites one woman to come and speak about their business, and networking experiences or personal and professional goals. But having a soccer coach speak was a step in a different direction.

 “I was afraid they would not receive it; that this speech would be too touchy-feely,” said Salzmann-Dunn. 

She talked about her start as a coach and the journey it has taken her on. She continued, telling the women how significant events of her life shaped her into the person she is today, such as her family’s move from Holland to the U.S. during World War II, her large family and the sacrifices they made to live here, the first coach to see her for who she could become, and her constant striving for excellence in everything that she does, no matter what it takes. 

“What I think my coaching is guided by is a real sense of creating a team atmosphere, of teaching women to be confident within themselves, to make no apologies or excuses for wanting to be great, to (help them) want to be excellent or dominant at what they do,” said Salzmann-Dunn.

Salzmann- Dunn continued, discussing being able to see a (soccer) team and understand the potential that it has, and not stopping until the vision is realized; there is a constant drive and motivation to not “just settle”, but push to be excellent. Salzmann-Dunn emphasized the need to be unique, to be different than others; that to be truly yourself is the best you can be. 

She gave the example of when she first started coaching. Many of her decisions were based off of how others thought it should be done, but it wasn’t until she chose to be uniquely herself and coach in the style she knew, that she and her teams started to become successful. 

This strive for excellence must have hit home with many women in attendance, because Salzmann-Dunn said that multiple women came up afterward to talk about their personal experiences with these same ideas.

Bill Fusco, the athletic director at SSU, who was also the only man to attend the speech, said that this was the best speech they have had in years. 

“She has had all these accomplishments--she is an All-American, she is a great coach, and she in is our hall of fame--yet she still accredits her upbringing and family for them,” said Fusco.

As Salzmann-Dunn presses forward with her third season as the Head Coach of SSU Women’s Soccer we will soon see if her standard of excellence will inspire this year’s team to fulfill their true potential.

To attend other Women in Business speeches contact the Rohnert Park Chamber of Commerce at (707) 584-1415 or email them at