Van Essen began working at Dordt College in 1979 as the Director of Career Planning and Placement. Having been a high school teacher and guidance counselor for nine years, he was hired to begin the first career assistance/job placement office in the newly formed Student Services department at Dordt College. Van Essen also served as a high school coach basketball and cross-country coach and had a strong interest in soccer, so he was asked to be the first coach of the new men’s soccer program at Dordt. He coached the men’s program from 1980 – 1992 compiling a record of 159 – 61- 12. During that time he took two teams to the regional NAIA national tournament. In 1989 he moved into the Admissions department and from 1991 to 2014 served as the Executive Director of Admissions. Serving in this administrative position did not allow him to continue his coaching responsibilities; nevertheless, he continued to be a strong advocate for all the athletic programs at Dordt. Van Essen retired from full-time employment at Dordt in June 2014, allowing him time to rejoin the program that he started.
Van Essen will serve as an assistant coach on the men’s team and will assistant in recruiting for both the men’s and women’s programs.