Gabe Romo | Assistant Coach
Gabe Romo enters his first season on the sidelines for K-State as an assistant coach. Romo was hired by head coach Mike Dibbini as the program’s first assistant coach in March of 2015.
Romo joins K-State following a one-year stint in 2014 as the head men’s and women’s soccer coach at Holy Names University in Oakland, California. Romo guided the men’s program to a 6-12 record and tutored the 2014 Pacific West Conference (PWC) Player of the Year and All-PWC First Team honoree, Jaime Phillips.
Prior to his time at Holy Names, Romo was at Kansas Wesleyan from 2011-14 as a member of Dibbini’s staff and as the head men’s soccer coach. As the men’s head coach in 2013, Romo registered a 13-4-3 record while earning Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) Coach of the Year honors. Romo guided the Coyotes to a 2014 NAIA National Tournament appearance while capturing the KCAC regular season and tournament titles.
In 2012, Romo served as the associate head men’s and women’s soccer coach under Dibbini at Kansas Wesleyan. Romo was responsible for assisting with all aspects of both programs which included recruiting and retention of student-athletes and aiding in the design and implementation of training sessions.
Both programs had significant success in 2012, as the men finished with a 16-3-2 record and secured the KCAC regular season and tournament titles, while making an appearance in the NAIA national tournament and a final NAIA ranking of No. 10. The women notched a 20-2 overall mark and secured KCAC regular season and tournament crowns on their way to an NAIA national tournament appearance and a final NAIA ranking of No. 11.
In 2011, Romo was the first assistant coach for the Kansas Wesleyan men’s and women’s programs. He helped both programs to KCAC regular season and tournament crowns and appearances in the NAIA national tournament. The men finished with an overall record of 17-4, while the women carded a 16-2-2 mark.
Before his time on the sidelines with his alma mater as an assistant coach, Romo picked up head coaching experience with Lancaster (Calif.) High School in 2009-10 and La Canada (Calif.) High School in 2010-11.
Romo graduated from Kansas Wesleyan in 2009 with a bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice. During his time with the Coyotes, Romo was a four-year letter winner and team captain in 2008 on the men’s soccer team. He helped Kansas Wesleyan to an overall record of 56-22-5 in his four seasons including three KCAC regular season conference titles (2005, 2007 and 2008) and two KCAC tournament crowns (2005 and 2006).
Jessica Smith | Assistant Coach
Jessica Smith joined K-State head coach Mike Dibbini’s inaugural coaching staff in January of 2016, following four seasons at Kansas.
Smith served as an assistant coach on the Kansas staff from 2011 until 2015. During her time on the sidelines with the Jayhawks, she helped guide the program to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances in 2011 and 2014 and a trip to the Big 12 Conference tournament final in 2015.
Under Smith’s guidance, the Jayhawks’ offense tallied 35 or more goals in four seasons as the 2011 team registered one of the top offensive seasons in program history. KU scored the second-most goals in school history (46) and totaled 131 points, which was the third-highest single-season mark in program history.
In 2013, Smith was selected as one of 15 women by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) for their inaugural 30-Under-30 Coaching Program for rising coaches.
Smith holds a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) National “B” License, which she attained in 2011. From 2009-10, Smith aided the Jayhawks as a volunteer assistant coach.
Before she joined the KU coaching staff, Smith coached at various levels in the Kansas City Metro area, including as a varsity assistant coach for both the boys’ and girls’ teams at Olathe Northwest High School. During her time at ONWHS, she helped guide the Lady Ravens to back-to-back region championships in 2008 and 2009, while assisting with the Ravens’ boys regional championship team in 2007. Several of her players on both the girls’ and boys’ sides went on to play soccer at the collegiate level.
In addition to her coaching duties at Olathe Northwest, Smith served as a coach with the Kansas State Olympic Development Program (ODP) girls’ program. In 2008, she was an assistant with the 1992 team, which was the first Kansas ODP team (boys or girls) to win an ODP Regional Championship. Her team went on to participate in the US Youth Soccer National ODP Championship tournament. Smith is currently working on Region II ODP staff with the 2000 birth year team.
Smith has also spent time working with TOPSoccer programs throughout the state of Kansas in 2008 until 2011 as a chairperson as well as a coach. TOPSoccer is U.S. Youth Soccer’s outreach program for children with special needs.
As a student-athlete from 2002-05 with Kansas, Smith played in 83 career games and was team captain in 2005. She was a two-time Academic All-Big 12 selection and helped the Jayhawks win the Big 12 regular season title in 2004 and aided the 2003 squad to a third round appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Smith scored 16 goals in her career with the Jayhawks including seven in her freshman season. Her 16 career goals rank eighth in school history. She also dished out 10 assists. She garnered a pair of Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors and was named to the Soccer Buzz Elite Team of the Week in 2005. She graduated from KU in 2006 with a degree in sports and fitness management.
Smith was an NSCAA All-American at Wichita Southeast High School. The product of Wichita, Kansas,is the program’s all-time leading scorer after graduating in 2002. In 2012, Smith was an inaugural inductee into the Wichita Southeast High School Athletics Hall of Fame.
Tyler Watkins | Volunteer Coach / Goalkeeper Coach
Tyler Watkins enters his first season as a K-State volunteer coach/goalkeepers coach.
Watkins’s responsibilities include: goalkeeper specific training, video analysis and scouting and assisting at K-State’s various camps and clinics.
Prior to arriving at Kansas State, Watkins was the head women’s soccer coach at NAIA-affiliated Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, from 2012 until 2015. Before taking the reins of the women’s program, Watkins served as an assistant coach fro two seasons in 2010 and 2011 with both the men’s and women’s teams.
Watkins started his coaching career as an assistant coach at NCAA Division II Upper Iowa University in 2008. He then joined the Cornell College coaching staff as assistant men’s and women’s soccer coach in 2009. While at Cornell, Watkins was also the head men’s coach at Center Point-Urbana High School and was head goalkeeper coach for Cedar River Soccer Association/Eastern Iowa United.
Watkins spent time as an assistant women’s coach at Cedar Rapids Xavier High School in 2009 and at Independence High School in 2008. He served as a head coach with Wisconsin ODP and the Dubuque Soccer Club.
Watkins played goalkeeper at Upper Iowa, starting the majority of the team’s games his freshman and sophomore years. He also played with the St. Louis Lions Soccer Club PDL and Super 20 teams. His college career ended in his junior year due to a knee injury.
Watkins has a NSCAA national diploma, a NSCAA advanced national goalkeeping diploma and a USSF “D” License.
Watkins graduated from Upper Iowa in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science degree in sports management and a minor in coaching.