In his rise from Saint Louis University soccer standout to Union Omaha head coach, Jason Mims has followed one simple mantra:
“Be the best.”
Those words are what current Omaha head soccer coach Bob Warming told Mims when he invited him to join his coaching staff at Creighton. At that point, Mims was one year removed from college and had just finished up a season of playing professionally with the Cincinnati Riverhawks. He had little experience with coaching before, but Warming saw the potential that Mims offered.
“[Warming] told me to be the best player in practice and you’ll learn as you go,” Mims said. “That was easy for me.”
Given the way that Mims has risen up the coaching ranks since then, it does seem like it’s come easy to him. But how exactly did a young, ex-college player become the successful head coach of one of USL League One’s hottest teams?
To understand that, you have to go to where Mims’ coaching story begins: Omaha.
Of course, don’t let the fact that he was born in Memphis, played collegiate soccer in St Louis and played professional soccer in Cincinnati fool you. Mims truly is an Omahan through and through. Since joining Warming at Creighton in 2001, Mims has done it all.
To list some of his accomplishments, he’s been involved for years with local youth soccer clubs. He’s coached at the two biggest soccer universities in the city. He’s currently the very first head coach of Union Omaha. Mims represents Omaha to such an extent that one of the very first teams he ever coached was an amateur team fittingly named 402 FC.
In the 19 years that Mims has been in Omaha, he’s found plenty of reasons to love his adopted hometown, but there’s one that stands out most of all.
“I’m fortunate I get to travel all over the world for my job, but Omaha is one of the best places I’ve been to and I’ll continue to go to, and that’s because of the people,” said Mims.
Mims has only left Omaha once in the past 20 years. In 2018, he took a job in Utah with professional side Real Salt Lake. In essence, this move was almost like a pilgrimage for Mims. The job was Mims’ first experience with top level professional soccer. While he didn’t always work in a coaching capacity with RSL, the experience proved invaluable.
“I got lucky in my two years that I was there,” said Mims. “I got to do a little bit of everything. I did a lot of scouting at all levels. I got to do coaching for their pro team [Real Monarchs], I got to be in front office meetings.”
With the new experiences from Salt Lake, Mims returned from his journey to the desert in 2019, when he was named the first ever head coach of Union Omaha.
“I loved [Omaha], but the reason I left was to get into pro soccer and then when someone called me back saying ‘Hey, we’ve got pro soccer for you here in Omaha,’ the decision was pretty easy,” said Mims.
Professional soccer is where Mims always wanted to end up, so for him, having that opportunity in Omaha made it all that much better.
It took some time for Mims to get to where he is today. He spent time as an assistant coach at Creighton. He spent time as a college head coach at UNO. Now he gets to be a professional head coach for Union Omaha. Through all of these steps on the journey, Mims has maintained the mentality necessary to keep moving on up.
“I want to be successful, I want to win,” said Mims. “I never want to back down from a fight. I never want to say ‘No.’ I guess it’s just the competitive nature in me.”
The competitive nature has always been present for Mims. It’s that competitive nature that helped lead UNO soccer to their first ever Summit League title in 2017. It’s that competitive nature that currently has Union Omaha off to a hot start in league play.
With Mims still having a fruitful career in coaching ahead of him, there’s no telling where his competitive nature will take him next.