Thunderbird Soccer Introduces Two New Coaches
By SUU Strategic Communication
CEDAR CITY, Utah, June 4 – The Southern Utah University soccer program announced the hiring of two new assistants on Wednesday as Kristen Gay takes over as the team’s new full-time assistant while Reyna Coca joins the Thunderbirds as a graduate assistant.
"I'm very excited about the addition of these two top-quality coaches and people to our staff. They bring with them an unparalleled zest for building a successful soccer program,” stated head coach Becky Hogan. “As part of the leadership of this team, both Kristen and Reyna each possess qualities that will help our team grow. I believe they will help our individual players reach their fullest potential.”
Coach Gay possesses an impressive soccer resume with significant experience at the Division I level. She most recently spent five seasons as the head coach at Big Sky member North Dakota, and served as an assistant on the staff for a year prior to taking over the program. Gay also spent a year at Indiana State and has worked with the teams at Buena Vista University and Dana College. She has also been involved with various club programs throughout the Midwest and the Olympic Development Programs in both Nebraska and Indiana.
"Kristen and I represent both ends of the soccer spectrum - she is probably more of a technician who appreciates the details and finesse of soccer where I am a coach who errs more on the side of a physical and aggressive style. It is a great compliment and exactly what this team is looking for,” commented Hogan. “Kristen is also familiar with the other Big Sky schools having coached at North Dakota. This allows for a seamless transition and will allow us to keep all focus on the field and developing our players.”
Hogan and Gay were teammates at the University of Nebraska, helping the team reach the Elite 8 at the NCAA tournament in 1996. The former Cornhusker earned all-Big XII honors and a degree in secondary education before going on to receive a master’s in physical education and coaching from Indiana State. She is a member of the NSCAA and holds a USSF C license.
The Thunderbirds new graduate assistant has experience working with some of the best goalkeepers in the country after serving as the ODP Director of Goalkeeping for the past three years. Coca has also been extensively involved with the Rio Rapids Soccer Club. She captained the team at California State University Los Angeles for three seasons while earning her degree in business administration. Coca also holds a NSCAA Goalkeeper Level III Diploma, a National “Y” Coaching License and a National D Level license.
“Reyna is a highly organized and energetic coach who possesses elevated views on the game and brings to the table a full time commitment to the development of our players. Her experience with high level players is exceptional,” stated Hogan. “She has tremendous ideas about the game and how she coaches. I think that she will quickly develop into an elite coach and I am excited about being a part of that process."
The Thunderbirds are currently in summer training as they prepare for their season-opener against Dixie State on Friday, Aug. 22nd. More information about SUU soccer can be found at www.suutbirds.com.