Jacksonville Daily Progress
Rafael Gonzalez, Jacksonville College's brand-new head soccer coach (men and women), is not only well known locally, having graduated Jacksonville High School in 1996 and having served as assistant vice-president of Prosperity Bank for 10 years, but he has also been a mainstay in the local and area soccer community for the duration of that time as well.
So, it's simple to see why he was selected by JC officials to head up the new programs, which are on track to begin play next fall.
Likewise, this isn't Gonzalez' first rodeo when it comes to building collegiate soccer programs from the ground up.
“I played (college) soccer at Lon Morris College when the program first started, so I have seen first hand and am very familiar with what it takes to start a program from scratch,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez, who was introduced on Friday as the JC head soccer coach, has already started preparing for the fall season.
“One of the key things that sells players to a program is the quality of the playing field,” Gonzalez said. “Soccer players want to play on a nice field.
“We are at an advantage at Jacksonville College in that we already have a great field established and sodded in. Most new programs have to build a field and it takes time to get grass established, so we are well ahead of most start-up programs.”
Gonzalez is working on getting rye grass seeds cast so that the field will be green and be in optimal condition during the cold-weather months.
Goals have already arrived for the soccer complex, which is located southwest of the Curtis Carroll Fieldhouse.
Lynn Nabi, JC athletic director, said that the school will add lights at some point, which hasn't been determined at this time, so that night matches can be played.
Gonzalez has not been spending all of his time on the pitch, however.
He has been actively recruiting players that will make up the first soccer teams in the history of the institution.
“Eighty percent of our players will come from Jacksonville, Whitehouse, Tyler, New Summerfield and Palestine,” Gonzalez said. “We will probably have a couple of international players on each team as well as two or three from the Dallas or Houston areas, but the majority of kids will come from the local area. I believe there is plenty of soccer talent in this area to fill most of the places on our rosters.”
Gonzalez said that he has already fielded several inquires from area players that have already graduated high school and that the preliminary interest in the JC programs is high.
JC teams will play in Region XIV and compete against schools such as Tyler Junior College, Northeast Texas Community College, Paris Junior College, San Jacinto-South, Coastal Bend College and Navarro College.
The Jags and Lady Jags will also play several of the Dallas-area NJCAA Division III schools, giving the team an attractive number of conference and non-conference home matches.
Those home tilts will more than likely be played on Tuesday and Saturday.
Gonzalez said JC is committed to avoid scheduling athletic competitions that would conflict
with worship programs and services that take place on Sunday and Wednesday.
Viva Jacksonville College soccer!