In the span of one week, the UNO men’s soccer program went from saying goodbye to the program’s founder to greeting a two-time national coach of the year.
On March 28, it was announced that Jason Mims would be taking a job with Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake organization. He would be leaving UNO with a career mark of 51-52-15. Shortly thereafter, Omaha hired renowned coach Bob Warming to take Mims’ place.
Mims led the young soccer program to its first NCAA tournament bid last fall by defeating Denver in the Summit League Championship in penalty kicks. The team played (and lost to) Florida International University in the first round. That bid ended a spectacular season – the Mavericks had been ranked in the top 10 nationwide earlier in the fall.
“I wouldn’t have left UNO for a college job. And that’s what I told the players,” Mims mentioned. “This is the best place to play college soccer, for me. What we have here at UNO – and in Omaha – is something special.” Mims will coach and recruit for Real Salt Lake’s academy. The facility hosts not only the professional soccer team, but also several youth and semi-professional teams. Mims indicated that many details are yet to be planned, saying: “The primary job is coaching. I think I’ll figure it out more once we get out there.”
The young coach had spent many years in Omaha, coaching on both the Mavericks sideline and the Creighton Bluejays’ sideline – where he assisted Coach Warming for a while. And while Mims is moving up, Warming had already convinced himself that he was done coaching.
“When I saw my granddaughter and decided I was going to walk away from a good contract to be with my family, I really thought that I wasn’t going to coach again,” Warming said at his introductory press conference. “But the pilot light has been on.”
Warming has brought two different teams to the college cup (NCAA soccer’s championship game) and is only the fifth coach all-time to accomplish such a feat. His record of 461-240-82 is the third-best among active coaches; these wins were accrued while Warming coached at Creighton and Penn State, among others. Most notably, Warming had won the National Coach of the Year award twice during his tenure at Penn State.
The two coaches happen to be very close. “All the way up until the time that he came here, we had never been apart,” said Warming. “We’ve just been so doggone close for so long (that we) have not missed a week talking to each other since 1997.” In fact, Warming flew down from Pennsylvania last fall to watch the Mavs win the Summit League.
While Mims will be missed, UNO players have nowhere to look but forward. “Mims made a great decision for him in his professional career by going down to Real Salk Lake. He’s definitely furthering his career,” Junior striker Elvir Ibisevic commented. “With Bob Warming coming in, it’s only going up from here.”
While the departure will be bittersweet, Mims was left only with gratitude for how things worked out. “He’s the one that kind of got me into coaching… I couldn’t dream of a better scenario… you could make a movie about it. It’s incredible how this all worked out.”
The team will play a home game on April 20 as a part of a spring exhibition series.