Lake Tahoe Community College president: Congrats to soccer teams on strong seasons (opinion) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Lake Tahoe Community College president: Congrats to soccer teams on strong seasons (opinion)

Jeff DeFranco
Guest Column

Congratulations are in order for the Lake Tahoe Community College Coyote men's and women's soccer teams for another incredible, thrilling, highly competitive season! If you see our Coyote players or coaches around town, please offer them a well-deserved high-five.

And how about a special Coyote howl-out for LTCC's women's head coach Jeremy Evans, whose efforts and commitment to his players resulted in both a history-making season and the award for Coach of the Year in the Golden Valley Conference! Get to know the players and coaches for both of LTCC's teams by going to ltcc.edu/athletics.

A brief recap: At one point in October, both of LTCC's soccer teams were ranked in the top 20 in United Soccer Coaches Junior College Division III national rankings — the men ranked No. 16 and the women No. 12. Under the leadership of coach Evans and assistant coach Nicole Vandehurst, the women's team finished the regular season ranked No. 10 in the country and went on to win the Golden Valley Conference (GVC) with a 12-0 record, breaking conference records in the process.

They only gave up one in-conference goal the whole season — a dominating year! After a Solano Community College forfeit in the first round of playoffs, the women Coyotes then faced a tough Santa Rosa Junior College squad on LTCC's home turf the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, ending in a 1-0 second-round loss for our Coyotes. It was a hard loss, but the women Coyotes have a lot to feel proud about this season with their Top 10 national ranking, their first-ever conference championship, and their dominating 82-1 in-conference scoring.

LTCC's men's team ended the season tied with Feather River for second place in the GVC, but did not advance to the playoffs due to Feather River's higher power ranking. The squad, led by head coach Nick Arbelaez and assistant coach Steve Maltase, finished with an overall record of 12-3-4 — yet another winning season for the men! In any other year, that outcome would have been enough for a playoff berth, but revitalized Lassen and Feather River teams proved a tough obstacle to overcome.

Both teams celebrated their seasons and individual player accomplishments at an awards dinner on Tuesday night. And the winners were:

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First and most importantly, our Scholar-Athlete Award winners (minimum 3.3 GPA): Rebecca Niblett, Kenya Brazzell, Josh Sapsed, Louis Gillings

Conference Most Valuable Player: Madison Boyd

Conference Defensive Player of the Year: Caitlyn Bidart

First Team All-Conference: Sean Keith, Claudia Janese, Manuel Sarabia, Rebecca Niblett, Melanie Ara

Second Team All-Conference: Jorge Medina, Jazmine Corvalan, Josh Sapsed, Graciela Palencia, Zareli Villa

We'll soon know about All-American and All-State award winners, and we expect some Coyotes to find out about a few more accolades coming their way in the days ahead.

It's not just the awards and championships that make college athletics so important. They are truly a win-win for both the participants and their sponsoring institution. Student-athletes benefit personally, academically and professionally from participating in college sports, gaining a real-life understanding of the importance of teamwork, leadership, time management and competition with integrity. They also make lifetime friends in their teammates and coaches.

The college also gains as the community and school bond more strongly in the shared excitement of the experience, the school enhances its profile and reputation, and the breadth and depth of the comprehensive nature of its campus is expanded through the inclusion of student athletics.

LTCC collegiate soccer launched in 2014, and both teams have been incredibly successful after just four seasons. Both have now won conference championships, and both have made it to the state playoffs more than once. This level of success that early in a collegiate program's history is remarkable.

Coyote fans from the college and community have responded to the superior quality of the soccer facilities and teams with outstanding sideline support. On behalf of our coaches and players, thank you for coming out and howling for our Coyote teams — that enthusiasm is a big part of why LTCC Coyote soccer has been so successful!

Jeff DeFranco is the superintendent/president at Lake Tahoe Community College. Visit his Twitter account at http://www.twitter.com/jeffdefranco and contact him by email at president@ltcc.edu.