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Paving a path to gridiron greatness in the Dimel era

Joel Molina
UTEP football head coach Dana Dimel looks down at his play sheet during a game against UNLV Sept. 23.

Editor’s note: This article was written prior to the start of the 2023 football season. 

UTEP football coach Dana Dimel is entering his sixth season as head coach and Dimel is ready for the upcoming season.  Dimel is also excited to see the players become leaders through the UTEP football program.   

At the start of his athletic career Dimel grew up playing golf; he played football in the third grade but quit to focus on the putt. Dimel decided to try out for football in the tenth grade, but decided he was not the best player on the team.  

“I couldn’t even get through the bags or anything, so then I dedicated myself to being a player and I improved steadily after that,” Dimel said.  

Coaching was not always in the cards for Dimel either as he signed a contract to play for the Minnesota Vikings after college but was faced with a career-ending knee injury. Dimel then went to a specialist in Cincinnati for reconstructive surgery, but they were unable to conduct the surgery.  

Dimel started out as a strength coach after helping in the weight room at Kansas State University and transitioned into becoming a graduate assistant which led to head coaching.  

“I’m kind of liking this now, but I never really had a plan to do it,” Dimel said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do, which is what I tried to warn guys against. Have a plan, right? Have something ready, football’s not going to last forever.”  

Dimel’s MO (mode of operation) has been turnaround programs, from Kansas State to the University of Houston and now UTEP where he led the Miners to its first bowl game appearance since 2014 in the 2021 season. The key to success begins in practice with the philosophy of having short, crisp practices.  

“We’re very intense because of that, because the practices aren’t long drawn out and mundane, and our players can be very aggressive and active at the practices,” Dimel said.  

Bringing out the best in a player is all about finding their motivation, Dimel motivates each player on the team in a different way by seeing what is important to them and why they play the game of football. He says staying motivated can be difficult and he says once he finds their “why”, he can start seeing how to help each player.   

Dimel encourages each player to show their personality while being aggressive for what they want, and he wants teammates to look after each other.  

“There’s nobody you know on this planet that doesn’t have trouble staying motivated, right? And so, they need support,” Dimel said. “My point is everybody needs support, and so coaches’ jobs a lot of times are to take players to places they don’t really want to go, but places that are going to make them better. You cannot have success on a team unless you’re selfless. So, it’s very, very important to be unified, to care about your teammates and to be selfless.”  

Dimel is excited for the upcoming football season as UTEP continues to mold its team, see them become leaders and have them teach the new players to become better leaders. Dimel said he likes the competitive edge of the team and believes they are the most athletic they have ever been.   

“We’re young at some spots, but I think we got really good leadership, and we got some big-time players that can help this athleticism with the young guys to show,” Dimel said.  

For teams facing off against the Miners, Dimel wants them to view the Miners as players who work hard, perform at a high level and do things the way they are supposed to be done.   

“I think the thing I’m most proud about our Miners right now is how well these guys carry themselves off the field and how well they’re doing in the classroom,” Dimel said. “We’re setting records each and every year for our team GPA and I want to continue to do that.” 

Katrina Villarreal is a guest contributor and may be reached at [email protected]  

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About the Contributors
Katrina Villarreal
Katrina Villarreal, Multimedia Editor
Katrina Villarreal is senior multimedia journalism major with a minor in theatre at UTEP. She is going into her second year at The Prospector and is currently the Multimedia Editor. Once she graduates, she plans on becoming a sideline reporter for the NFL or ESPN.  
Joel Molina
Joel Molina, Contributor/Photographer
Joel is a graduate creative writing student at the University of Texas at El Paso. He is a photo contributor and began his career at The Prospector in 2022. He hopes to continue providing the world and its people with different forms of storytelling that will hopefully make their day to day lives better.
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