MCC hires women’s soccer team head coach with ties to U.S. Olympic team, updates board on development of history-making athletic program ￼
MOHAVE COUNTY – Mohave Community College just announced the hiring of a head coach for northwestern Arizona’s first-ever Women’s College Soccer Team.
Cynthia Cervantes was most recently the women’s team head coach at Western Texas College, is currently assistant coach for the U.S. Western Region Olympic Development Program working with her friend and mentor Olympic Soccer Champion Brandi Chastain. At MCC, in addition to helping build the region’s first women’s college soccer program, she will also be an instructor and assist with student life activities.
A public announcement about the hiring was made during a November 7 special board meeting where college trustees received updates on the development of the men’s and women’s soccer programs and other college business.
“We’re very pleased and fortunate Cynthia has accepted the position, she has college coaching and Olympic development experience, and a proven record of working closely with community youth programs that build character and a talent pipeline for future athletes,” said MCC Director of Soccer Programs and Men’s Team Head Coach Camilo Valencia.
Cervantes has been playing soccer since she was 12 years old and started coaching youth soccer in her hometown of El Paso, Texas at the age of 16. She earned bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and Physical Education from Eastern New Mexico University, and her master’s degree in sports science from Ohio State University. She then became an instructor and a college coach, Director of Coaching for the El Paso Juventus Soccer Club, and Coach for New Mexico Youth Soccer.
She has also racked up some impressive awards, including:
* 2010, 2011 – MVP EL Paso Player of the Year
* 2011 – Conference of the Carolinas Conference Champion
* 2019, 2020, 2021 – El Paso Coach of the Year
* 2022 – 30 Under 30 Class with United Soccer Coaches
“I’m very excited to join such a great college and community to help build a top tier collegiate soccer program,” said Cervantes. “It’s such an incredible opportunity for coaches to be able to build a new program and for soccer to be the first college sport ever for an entire region is very inspiring.”
Valencia said he and Cervantes will be very busy over the next year and half setting up a system to support successful athletic programs in a region that has never had a college athletic team. It is a lofty goal which entails many facets most people outside of college athletics may not realize, such as ensuring the college meets all requirements of the National Junior College Athletic Association, NJCAA, and the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference, ACCAC.
The coaches will also work closely with the college to build every internal and external process, essentially from scratch. This includes creating student-athlete recruitment and academic policies and procedures, developing scholarship funding sources, medical and athletic training guidelines and requirements, ensuring suitable housing for student-athletes, and community outreach plans that include developing soccer camps and clinics throughout the region, possibly as early as this coming spring and summer.
“We will also be working closely with the Bighorn Athletics Booster Club and regional leaders to help ensure there is community and financial support for the college men’s and women’s programs so highly competitive teams will be on the field, strong students in the classroom, and students giving back to their local communities,” said Valencia.
During the board meeting, members also heard plans to begin the soccer programs in the fall of 2024, which will allow more time for the construction of appropriate housing for student-athletes.
The college remains in talks with a local developer to utilize part of an apartment complex that is expected to be built along the Bullhead City Parkway, just south of the college campus. However, the potential of construction delays and increasing costs create a situation where housing will not be ready in time for the fall 2023 season. In the meantime, MCC will continue to explore all other housing options and plan to be ready for the 2024 NJCAA soccer season.
“We were hopeful the housing project across the parkway would be completed by next summer, however it is not our construction project and we are not in a position right now to comfortably say it will definitely be done by the time we need it,” said MCC President Dr. Stacy Klippenstein. “By moving the soccer programs to join the 2024 season, the college will also have more time to investigate the option of building student housing on campus, giving the college and board members more control over project development and costs.”
During the special board meeting, members also received an update the Facilities Master Plan the college is creating. Currently, the plan is in the discovery phase which includes conducting a review of all the college campuses and buildings throughout Mohave County, as well as seeking input from community members, college students and employees to help MCC develop a plan that serves the future higher education needs of northwestern Arizona.
For more information on the creation of the college soccer teams and the Facilities Master Plan, visit the college website at Mohave.edu.