South Mountain Community College women’s soccer head coach Nicole Acosta has been playing soccer since she was four, and that lifelong love of the game has led her to the Cougars for the 2020 season. A former standout at Paradise Valley Community College and Arizona State University, Acosta understands the value and pride community college athletics can foster in student-athletes and works to spread that message throughout the community.
“Having played at the community college and Division I helps me recruit because I can relate to players due to my experiences,” Acosta said. “I know the way and can help them get to the next level if that’s what they aspire to do.”
Acosta also spoke to the wealth of opportunities a college education can bring to students and their families in the Hispanic community.
“As a coach, I like to do my best to reach out to the Hispanic community. Scholarships and other opportunities are available for them to help make going to college more appealing,” Acosta said. “I think it’s important to help them see it’s possible and there’s a way to get there. It gives hope to the community and creates more opportunities for them.”
Acosta brings some impressive coaching credentials to the Cougars after a successful stint at ACCAC rival Arizona Western.
In her two seasons in charge, the Matadors totaled 33 wins and earned consecutive conference playoff appearances. In her first season in charge, the Matadors set a new program record with 21 wins. They went on to capture the ACCAC Championship and participated in the NJCAA National Championship Tournament.
Before her time in Yuma, Ariz., Acosta was the head coach of the men’s soccer team at Maya High School and led the squad to a state title.
One of her earliest memories of the sport is playing with her brother Alex on an all-boys team. She credits the experience with helping her build mental toughness and to be aggressive.
Alex also serves as her biggest inspiration on the pitch. A standout midfielder himself, he and Nicole became the first siblings to earn Region Player of the Year honors in the same year. He excelled at Glendale Community College and had a spot lined up on the squad at Grand Canyon University.
However, tragedy struck about eight years ago, and Alex lost his life. Glendale CC named their Alumni game after Acosta, and the family created a scholarship in his name at GCU. The description of the award reads:
“Alex was very active in soccer throughout his years and was accomplishing his lifetime dream of becoming a fireman with the Phoenix Fire Department. This scholarship was established to help others achieve their dreams and goals and discover their life’s purpose while pursuing their continued educational goals from Grand Canyon University. Alex’s parents would like to encourage students to always remember their faith, to work diligently toward their purpose, and to finish with honor.”
Acosta is still completing her staff at SMCC, but she has lined up some candidates already. The prospects of a 2021 season are still in flux, although some optimism is beginning to emerge from medical professionals.