Emiria Salzmann Dunn: The leader of the pack

Santa Rosa native, Emiria Salzmann Dunn, grew up under the prestigious era of the 1990 Sonoma State women’s soccer national championship team, making it a dream of hers to one day become a Seawolf. 

After graduating at 16 from Piner High School as the leading goal scorer and now a member of the PinerHall of Fame, she went on to pursue her soccer career at Santa Rosa Junior College. She made her mark there yet again as the leading goal scorer where Peter Reynaud, the head coach of Sonoma State at the time, offered her a spot on the team. Without any hesitation, she happily accepted.

 Her legacy was just getting startedin ’96 when she broke the record for most goals scored in a single season, one of the many reasons she was admitted into the Hall of Fame here at Sonoma State.

“It’s no overstatement to say playing here changed my life,” said Salzmann Dunn. “When I got to Sonoma State I was surround by competitive women like myself. I had never been pushed at the level that I had been pushed at. I struggled with fitness, I have asthma, and I never knew I was capable of physically doing the things that I did. That’s why I’m a big believer in fitness because I saw what it did for me and what it did for my teammates by the confidence we got out of being physically capable. It shed a lot of fears and insecurities.”

Right out of college, Salzmann Dunn played semi-pro and started up her coaching career with a U14 girls team, the Thunder. Little did she know her name would quickly get around the league as the new, young coach fueled by intensity. 

So intense it intrigued a writer out of Marin by the name of Jonathan Littman to follow her team around for her entire first year. He later published a book called “The Beautiful Life” about how she brought the team to become state champions.

Her passion for playing was not over yet, though, as her Dutch citizenship allowed her to play in Holland. But, a devastating injury brought her back home. She then became the assistant coach at Long Beach State after receiving her master’s degree. After that, she returned home to Santa Rosa where she was applied to be the head soccer coach of her alma-mater the Santa Rosa Junior College. 

This was her most successful time as a coach. All four years she lead her team to win the conference championship, as well as receiving coach of the year every season, helping develop six All-Americans. 

In 2008 she was awarded national coach of the year. Her escalation as a coach was similar to her rise as a player. After several successful seasons at the Santa Rosa Junior College, Dunn moved on to coach at Sonoma State in 2011. 

Since joining Sonoma State, Coach Dunn has lead her pack of Seawolves to two first-place finishes in the regular season, four CCAA tournament appearances, three NCAA tournament appearance and most recently a CCAA regular season championship this past season. Salzmann-Dunn was also named coach of the year by the CCAA last season. 

“What made Emiria coach of the year was her ability to do it all. She really drives us to do everything we can and nothing less,” said sophomore Sara Van Wagoner, second team all-conference. “Her passion and motivation to make her team the best they can stands out to many that know her. Her intensity is contagious.” 

Everything Salzmann Dunn does is to push players to new levels they couldn’timagine, even pushing them to the brink on the soccer field, but always to get the best out of the student athlete. 

“She pushed me physically and mentally to be better. I was pretty hard on myself because she always set the standard high, but that’s what helped me to be successful with my career here at Sonoma State,” said Margi Osmundson, CCAA and NSCAA first team All American.

Relentless, fierce, tough, vigorous and demandingare all words to describe Coach Salzmann Dunn but these are all things that make her the leader of the pack. 

“My one line I always come back to is ‘I have to see for those players what they cannot see for themselves.’ Sometimes people will think I’m relentless on them but I have this vision of me standing in front of them and fighting their own fears for them” said Salzmann Dunn. 

Salzmann Dunn hopes the next thing she can add to her decorated career on the soccer field is a National Championship for Sonoma State.