The winningest head coach in school history (145-110-34), Heather Cairns is entering her 15th season as the head coach of the Utah State soccer program.
Cairns is a two-time Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, earning the accolade in 2008 and 2011.
During Cairns' tenure, the Aggies have earned nine conference Player of the Year honors. Forward Shantel Flanary was named the WAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2009 and 2011, while defender Natalie Norris picked up the WAC Defensive Player of the Year title in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Defender Taryn Rose earned USU's first Mountain West honor, as she was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year in 2014. Additionally, Rose and Flanary were named the WAC Freshman of the Year in 2011 and 2009, respectively, while Lindsey Smart earned the honor in 2006. Under Cairns, Utah State earned 22 all-Big West honors, 37 all-WAC awards and has added 12 all-Mountain West accolades. In the classroom, USU has been strong as well, garnering 55 academic all-Big West, 123 academic all-WAC and 65 academic all-Mountain West accolades. Additionally, soccer players have been named Mountain West Scholar-Athletes 53 times. Cairns has also led the team to 14-straight NSCAA Team Academic Awards.
Under Cairns, Utah State ended the 2016 season with a 12-9-0 overall record, while earning its highest finish in its time in the Mountain West, tying for third with a 7-4-0 league ledger. The Aggies garnered a MW-high five all-conference awards, as forward Jessica Brooksby and defender Kelsey Andersen were named to the first-team, forward Wesley Hamblin and midfielder Jayne Robison-Merrill earned second-team honors and defender Mealii Enos earned a spot on the all-newcomer team. Additionally, Andersen and Brooksby both earned NSCAA all-Pacific Region third team accolades. The Aggies' season ended in the semifinal round of the Mountain West Championship. In the classroom, 16 Aggies earned all-Mountain West honors and 14 were named Mountain West Scholar-Athletes.
The 2015 Aggie squad finished the year at 10-8-2, going 5-5-1 in Mountain West play. Brooksby and Hamblin earned all-Mountain West honors, while Brooksby was named to the NSCAA all-Pacific Region third team. Off the field, 18 players earned academic all-Mountain West accolades and 12 were named Mountain West Scholar-Athletes.
With a solid foundation in the team's second season in the Mountain West, Cairns led the 2014 squad to a 10-8-2 record, while going 6-4-1 in league action. The Aggies finished fifth in the conference, ending the season in the quarterfinal round of the Mountain West Tournament in a loss to Colorado College. Rose picked up her Defensive Player of the Year honor, while being named to the all-conference first-team. She was joined by midfielder Lexie Morgan with all-league accolades. In the classroom, 15 student-athletes earned academic all-Mountain West honors, while 13 were named Mountain West Scholar-Athletes.
In 2013, the Aggies made the move to the Mountain West, where they finished with a 10-7-5 overall record and a 5-3-2 mark in league play, finishing fifth. The fifth-seeded Aggies advanced to the semifinals of the Mountain West Tournament before falling to the eventual champion San Diego State. Jennifer Flynn, Rose and Brooke Larsen-Leavitt were all honored with all-conference honors.
Norris had a stellar season both on and off the field in 2013, becoming USU soccer's first CoSIDA Academic first-team All-American. Norris also earned NSCAA Scholar first-team All-American honors and was a Lowe's Senior CLASS second-team All-American, as well as earning CoSIDA Academic all-District honors. Overall, 16 USU players earned academic all-conference honors, while 14 were named Mountain West Scholar-Athletes in the team's first year in the league.
In 2012, the Aggies reached their second-straight NCAA Tournament after capturing their second WAC Tournament title in as many seasons. With a 13-3-6 overall record and a 6-0-2 league record, USU won its fourth-conference title in its eighth and final season in the league. USU hosted the WAC Tournament and captured the title with a 1-0 win over Denver. Norris captured her third-straight WAC Defensive Player of the Year honor, while earning a spot on the first team. Mari Miyashiro and Ashlyn Mulford were both first-team honorees, while Rose and Flynn were named to the second team. Norris also was named WAC Tournament MVP. USU's season came to an end after a 2-1 loss at BYU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Aggies had another great year in the classroom, with 17 players being named to the all-WAC academic team.
The 2011 season was an historic year for Utah State as the squad won its first WAC Tournament title and reached its first NCAA Tournament in program history, while winning its third WAC regular-season title. The Aggies ended the year with a school record 15-5-2 mark and a 5-1-1 record in league action. USU swept the WAC awards with Flanary earning Offensive Player of the Year honors and Norris being named Defensive Player of the Year, both winning the honor for the second time. Rose was named Freshman of the Year, while Cairns captured her second Coach of the Year honor. After winning the WAC Tournament, 1-0, against host Fresno State, senior Molli Merrill was named WAC Tournament MVP. Utah State made its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament that season, falling, 2-1, at Auburn in the first round. That year, 11 players earned academic all-WAC honors.
In 2010, Cairns and the Aggies won their second WAC regular-season title when USU tied San José State. USU ended the season with a 9-7-5 overall record and a 5-2-1 WAC record. Norris was the first Aggie to earn WAC Defensive Player of the Year honors and was joined on the all-WAC first team by Chandra Salmon-Christensen and Flanary. Salmon-Christensen became the first USU player to earn first-team all-conference honors her first three seasons. The Aggies ended the year with 18 players earning academic all-conference honors, a program record that still stands.
In 2009, Utah State had its fourth-straight 10-win season, finishing 10-9-2 overall and a 5-2-1 conference record. The Aggies ended the season second in WAC play. Salmon-Christensen earned first-team all-WAC honors for the second-straight year, while Flanary garnered WAC Offensive Player of the Year honors. The conference accolades continued with 15 student-athletes earning academic all-WAC honors.
Cairns and the Aggies had a breakout season in 2008 with a 13-8-1 overall record and a perfect 7-0-0 WAC mark. The 13 wins were the most ever by an Aggie squad at the time, and the team set another record when it won eight-straight matches. USU was the first WAC team since SMU in 2001 to go undefeated in league play. Utah State had a historic seven players named to the all-WAC team, including Flanary earning Freshman of the Year honors. Cairns also earned her first WAC Coach of the Year honor, leading the Aggies to their first WAC Tournament championship match. At the conclusion of the season, 14 Aggies were named to the all-WAC academic team.
USU posted a 10-11-0 record in 2007, tying the most-ever wins in the program's 12-year history. The Aggies' 5-2-0 conference record tied the previous program-record mark of five league wins set in 2006. In 2007, USU also set records for most points in a season (114), most goals in a season (40) and most assists in a season (34). Utah State also captured its first conference tournament victory as it shut out San José State, 4-0, in the first round of action before falling to the eventual tournament champion Hawai'i in the semifinals, 1-0, in double overtime. The Aggies continued their success in the classroom with 16 players earning academic all-WAC honors.
In 2006, Utah State recorded a 10-8-2 overall record, reaching the 10-win mark for just the second time in program history. The Aggies' 5-0-2 conference record topped the previous record for conference wins and the .750 conference winning percentage was also a school record. That year, Cairns coached the 2006 WAC Freshman of the Year in Smart, who also garnered second-team all-WAC honors. Two more Aggies earned all-WAC accolades with Charity Weston and Dana Peart earning first and second-team honors, respectively. USU had 17 players named to the academic all-WAC team.
The 2005 season saw Cairns and the Aggies amass a 7-9-4 ledger in their first season in the WAC. Cairns and USU recorded a 4-2-1 WAC record, tying for second-place in the conference standings and advancing to the WAC Tournament, where the Aggies lost in the first round to eventual tournament champion Fresno State. That season, the Aggies earned 16 academic all-WAC accolades, leading all USU teams in their first year in the league.
In 2004, Cairns led USU to a 6-11-1 mark, becoming the only Aggie coach to reach 16 wins in their first two seasons. That year, Cairns coached three all-Big West selections, two NSCAA Regional Scholar-Athletes and saw her team grab the NSCAA Team Academic Award for the second-straight year. The Aggie soccer team also led USU for the second-consecutive year in its number of fall academic all-Big West honorees, garnering eight.
In her first year at Utah State, Cairns led the Aggies to a then school-record 10 wins and its highest conference winning percentage (.556) in the program's eight seasons. Utah State set then school records in its number of all-Big West (5) and academic all-Big West (13) selections.
Before becoming the head coach at Utah State, Cairns spent four years as an assistant coach at Creighton. In her time at CU, the Bluejays went from a 7-13-1 record in 1999 to winning the 2002 Missouri Valley Conference championship with a 12-8-2 overall record. Additionally, Creighton qualified for the 2002 NCAA Tournament for the first time in the program's history. From 1999-2002, the Bluejays produced an NSCAA regional All-American, 18 all-conference players, six freshmen all-conference honorees, 13 academic all-conference selections and 11 NSCAA regional scholar-athletes.
Prior to her time at Creighton, Cairns spent two years as an assistant at New Mexico from 1997-98 and worked as a graduate assistant coach for three years (1994-96) at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.
An Erie, Pa. native, Cairns earned her bachelor's degree in biology in 1994 from Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., where she was a four-year letterwinner and two-year captain of the women's soccer team. She completed a second bachelor's degree in education while at St. Ambrose. She holds a "B" license from the United States Soccer Federation and an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma.