By Laura Tome
Dakoda Winsor and Amber Key-Winsor began their first year as scholar-athletes in 2009 and were married in 2012. Upon graduation in April 2013, Amber was offered an assistant coaching position for the Southern Virginia women’s soccer team.
When asked about her first year as an assistant coach, Amber said, “The greatest experience I got out of coaching was how neat it was to see how much the girls progressed as individuals and as a team throughout the season. I feel blessed to be able to be a part of their college soccer experience.
“I gained an appreciation for what coaches have done for me,” she said. “At first it was easier to do than to explain, but I got better as the season continued. Overall, it was a good experience.”
Amber felt her overall scholar-athlete experience at Southern Virginia was good for her athletically, academically and spiritually.
“I had a bad experience in high school and when I got here I had to do a lot of confidence building and got a lot stronger,” she said.
Her determination and hard work paid off as she ended her time on the field as a captain of the team and a USCAA all-academic recipient.
‘Fun’ is how senior linebacker Dakoda Winsor describes his tenure at Southern Virginia both as a student and an athlete. He began his Southern Virginia football career in 2009 and has been able to see the program grow over the past few years.
Dakoda began his first season as a Knight with a 3-6 record that 2009 season.
“Freshman year was a rough year – we only won three games and lost by an average of 30+points and not a lot of people from that year came back.”
He respects fellow teammates who have stuck with the program through the years.
“It was a rough beginning but as the years went on you could see that it was improving.”
Perhaps his high school experience gave him hope and led to his continued play with the Knights.
“My high school career and my college career are identical,” he said. “My high school team finished with a 3-6 record the first three years. My senior year we finished with a 6-3 record. Those first three years were tough but all the people who stuck with it helped build a program. It makes it all worth it in the end.”
Dakoda first joined the football program during its time as an independent member of the National Athletic Intercollegiate Association. His second year the program was a part of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association and his fourth year began the transition to an NCAA Division-III program and a member of the New Jersey Athletic Conference.
The Knights faced a current NJAC team this season and lost 7-2 to The College of New Jersey. When asked how he expects the next season to go for the Knights as a new member of a tough league, Winsor responded, “Losing by a 7-2 score to a big-time team in that conference and the fact that we hung with them says a lot about where this team is going and how we will do in that conference. I think it’s going to be tough, but every game will be a battle.”
The Knights ended the 2013 season with a program-best 8-2 record. Dakoda stuck with the Knights through the tough times, worked hard and became one of the program’s best defensive players in school history.
Some of his top accomplishments include being the program’s all-time kick return yards leader with 2,263, all-time leader in fumble recoveries with seven, No. 2 in career assisted tackles with 121 and No. 3 in program history in career tackles with 276.
He received numerous awards throughout his career, including invitations to all-star games and being named a finalist for the prestigious Cliff Harris award for small college defensive players.
As he looks back on his time as a scholar-athlete Winsor is most proud of his progression as an individual as well as how the football program has grown. When asked about his experience as a student he says, “It was good. This is a great place to be, I have been able to grow a lot as a person.”
Recruiters from various professional football organizations are looking at Dakoda to fill open roster spots they may have. Until then he plans to keep training hard and stay in school to graduate in May of 2015.