UTPA To Start Men's and Women's Soccer
In an effort to provide scholarship assistance to Rio Grande Valley students and the soccer programs, Val LaMantia Peisen has made a $275,000 leadership gift to establish the William D. Peisen Endowed Scholarship for Intercollegiate Soccer.
In 2012, 204 institutions competed in NCAA Division I men's soccer. Only two men's soccer programs, SMU and Houston Baptist, are in Texas. Incarnate Word, which sponsors men's soccer, begins the transition to Division I in 2013.
“The addition of both soccer programs will finally provide the Rio Grande Valley with Division I soccer, in particular, after an 18-year hiatus for men's soccer in 2015,” UTPA Director of Athletics Chris King said. “Local high schools have had a lot of success in soccer, and it's going to be great to be able to keep the soccer talent in the Rio Grande Valley so they can continue to excel on the playing field, in front of their family and friends, while obtaining a tier one, quality education.”
The search for the Broncs' first women's soccer head coach is now underway, with the job officially posting, both locally and nationally, after the conclusion of the press conference. The search and interview process is expected to run through March and April, with the new head coach starting on or around May 1.
The search for a men's soccer head coach will begin later in the year.
Once the head coaches are hired, they will be able to begin recruiting student-athletes and set dates for walk-on tryouts. Although soccer is a fall sport, each team will start competing during the spring before their first fall season with practices and an exhibition schedule. Scholarships for student-athletes on the women's soccer team will therefore begin in 2014 while scholarships for men's soccer will begin in 2015.
The location of the Broncs' home matches and practices is yet to be determined as UTPA is in the initial phases of planning to construct a brand new soccer and track & field complex on campus.
“The construction of a new soccer and track & field complex is a tall task with a heavy price tag, but this will provide UTPA the ability to host many more events, and not just in soccer and track & field,” King said. “To make this vision a reality, however, we will need assistance from the community and alumni. This is the type of capital project that those who want to see UTPA soccer succeed can make an immediate impact. We will be putting together a Soccer Fundraising Committee in the near future, comprised of community members and Pan Am alumni, to assist in our efforts to raise private funds for the multi-million dollar complex.”
The William D. Peisen Endowed Scholarship for Intercollegiate Soccer will provide a minimum of one scholarship for women's soccer and one for men's soccer each year. To be eligible for this scholarship, prospective recipients must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, have graduated from a high school in the Rio Grande Valley, maintain good academic standing as determined by the University, and maintain NCAA minimum eligibility requirements (if already enrolled).
This is an annual scholarship that is renewable at the discretion of the head coaches. The head coaches and the Director of Athletics will determine the number of scholarships available each year based on available endowment distributions.
“Bill was an advocate for higher education and believed if you were willing to work hard, anything was attainable,” LaMantia Peisen said. “Student-athletes are prime examples of this. They are the leaders of their school and representatives of our community, I cannot think of a better way to honor my husband's memory than to support the UTPA Soccer program in his name. Soccer is such a wonderful sport and has been such a big part of our children's lives. Bill saw the work ethic and time management skills it taught our children, and I'm excited to see this program grow in the future.”
“I am incredibly grateful that Val LaMantia Peisen had the vision to help bring Division I women's soccer to the Rio Grande Valley. She is a great Bronc,” UTPA President Dr. Robert S. Nelsen said.
“Val LaMantia Peisen sets the bar high when it comes to giving back to her community,” UTPA Vice President for University Advancement Veronica Gonzales said. “Her long-term commitment to higher education has been best exemplified by her tireless work with STARS, her participation on the UTPA Development Board, and her generous contributions to funding scholarships for students. Her latest gift to UTPA's soccer program, made in the name of her late husband, Bill Peisen, is particularly special because it pays tribute to his memory while providing an opportunity for many worthy student-athletes to further their education.”
“We are very thankful to Val for her generous leadership gift to the soccer programs,” King said. “The endowed scholarships help to ensure a solid foundation from which to provide scholarships to UTPA and Rio Grande Valley student-athletes and will have a deep impact on our commitment to winning championships on the playing field and supporting our student-athletes in the classroom.
“We have now received three six-figure leadership gifts in the past 36 months, two to endow scholarships for our student-athletes, and one for facility enhancements. And, with several capital projects being drawn up, including the soccer and track & field complex, we need to continue to identify those difference makers in providing leadership gifts for these capital projects and the ever-so important endowed scholarships for our student-athletes.”
The Broncs previously competed in men's soccer at the NCAA Division I level from 1987 through 1997, recording an overall record of 56-82-6. Their best season came in 1992, when they went 11-2 and finished third in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
Men's soccer originally started at Pan Am as a club team in 1970. One of the first head coaches was Dr. Layne Jorgensen, who began as a professor of Health and Physical Education at Pan Am in 1970 and still holds that position today. He is also currently the Interim Chair of the Department of Health and Kinesiology.
Reggie Tredaway, a long time Pan Am baseball assistant coach, guided the team from 1974 through 1986 and brought the Broncs into the Texas Collegiate Soccer League (Southern Division), which includes club teams from schools all over Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas.
Seven players made the jump from the Broncs' club team to the NCAA Division I team as Eloy Moran took the reigns of the program in 1987 and led the Broncs to a 7-9-1 record. The very next year, the Broncs posted a winning record, going 8-6-2. In 1991, the Broncs' first season in the Sun Belt Conference, the Broncs went 10-5-1. Moran went 42-51-7 in his seven years as head coach, but he did recruit and coach the Broncs' best player, Mario Ribera.
A native of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Ribera played three seasons for the Broncs from 1992-94 before turning professional. As a freshman in 1992, Ribera led the nation in goals per match at 2.42, the seventh highest mark in NCAA history, and points per match at 5.67, the fourth highest mark in NCAA history. He ranked second in the nation in points with a Sun Belt Conference record 68, the 17th highest total in NCAA history (at the time it was 15th), and in goals with a conference record 29 in 12 matches, the 19th highest total in NCAA history (at the time it was 18th). He also set the conference records for goals in a game, with five, and goals in a conference tournament, with six.
Ribera is currently the boys' soccer head coach at Palmview High School. Moran is currently one of the boys' soccer assistant coaches at Nikki Rowe High School.
Other notable alumni of the Broncs men's soccer team include:
- Salvador Garcia, the current boys' soccer head coach at Brownsville Rivera High School.
- Manuel Garcia, the current boys' soccer head coach at Nikki Rowe High School.
- Luis Cardenas, the current boys' soccer head coach at Edinburg High School.
- Jose Salinas, one of the girls' soccer assistant coaches at McAllen High School.
- Jesus Tavarez, a teacher a La Joya High School.
More information on the history of the Broncs men's soccer program, including schedules, rosters and stories that could previously only be found by accessing the UTPA Athletics archives room in person, can be found at the new men's soccer website here.
Future updates on the men's soccer program will also be available there, while updates on the women's soccer program will be available here.
“The entire UTPA administration is very excited about this special era of Broncs athletics,” King said. “The enthusiasm surrounding our athletic program, with gaining membership into the Western Athletic Conference and the sponsoring of men's and women's soccer, is at a level I've personally not witnessed during my four years as the Director of Athletics. The community and alumni support makes the difference and will help us in our goal to return the Broncs to the elite in college athletics.”
The WAC is currently set to feature seven women's soccer teams in 2014, including UTPA, Chicago State, CSU Bakersfield, Grand Canyon, New Mexico State, Seattle and Utah Valley. Grand Canyon will not be eligible for postseason play until 2017 as they transition from NCAA Division II to Division I, giving the Broncs a one in six chance to claiming the WAC's automatic qualifier into the NCAA Tournament.
The 2013 season marks the return of men's soccer to the WAC after previously sponsoring the sport from 1996-99. The 2013 men's soccer membership includes full-time member schools CSU Bakersfield, Grand Canyon and Seattle, as well as affiliate members Air Force, Houston Baptist, UNLV and San Jose State. Air Force and UNLV previously competed in the WAC for men's soccer from 1996-98 while San Jose State competed from 1996-99. Chicago State and Utah Valley are currently scheduled to launch men's soccer programs in 2014.