Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

December 10, 2012

Jacksonville College welcomes pair of new coaches

Robbins to head tennis programs; Gonzalez to direct soccer

Progress staff reports
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville College officially introduced two coaches on Friday morning in a ceremony held at the Summers Norman Library.

One, a new coach for a somewhat old sport, and the other a brand new mentor for a newly minted addition to the college's line up of sponsored sports.

Mark Robbins was named as JC's head tennis coach, while Rafael Gonzalez, who was formally the head soccer coach at what was Lon Morris College, was unveiled as the man to coach the first men's and women's soccer teams in school history — Jaguar and Lady Jaguar soccer will begin in the fall, with home matches to be held at the school's new soccer complex, located southwest of the Curtis Carroll Fieldhouse.

Jacksonville College athletic director Lynn Nabi said both men's commitment to running Christ-first programs and each's ties to the local and area talent pools played a big part in the school's decision to hire each, respectively.

“Mark Robbins is a God-honoring man who will conduct things in a Christian manner at all times,” Nabi said. “He is well respected in the local tennis community and he currently coaches several of the top-100 junior players in the state.

“He has strong ties in the Tyler tennis community as well, and has been a playing member of the United States Tennis Association for 17 years.”

Robbins takes over a program that is ranked No. 25 nationally (both men and women) and that was previously coached by Kenneth Michaud, who resigned earlier this month to return closer to his Las Vegas, Nev. home.

Nabi offered up these thoughts concerning Gonzalez.

“Coach Rafael (Gonzalez) is also a man that is deeply committed to God,” Nabi said. “He understands kids and their needs and he is already hard at work recruiting players for our first teams.”

Nabi said that he anticipates two or three international players being brought in for each of the soccer teams, with the bulk of the remaining players being commuter students.

“We will be providing opportunities for a lot of soccer players from Jacksonville, Rusk and the New Summerfield area,” Nabi said.

That decision was driven by the fact that due to a recent surge in enrollment at JC, demand for student housing is at an all-time high.

Other Region XIV schools offering soccer include: Northeast Texas, Community College, Navarro College (women only), Tyler Junior College, Paris Junior College and Coastal Bend (men only).