Three Clovis Community College soccer players are paving the way as the school’s first group to earn athletic scholarships to four-year universities.
“We are witnessing history here at Clovis Community College in athletics,” said Susan Yates, CCC Director of Athletics. “For the first time – in our second year of the soccer program – we have three candidates that are signing to the four-year system on scholarship.”
The trio includes men’s soccer star Juan Gonzalez who signed with local Division II school Fresno Pacific University, and women’s soccer standouts Elisa Soderholm and Maricela Soto who inked with California Baptist University (Division I) and University of Antelope Valley (NAIA), respectively.
To celebrate the group’s accomplishments, the college threw a signing day ceremony during its Cinco de Mayo Extravaganza on Thursday with teammates, coaches, family and friends in attendance.
CCC started its soccer program two years ago in August of 2016. In that first year, the women finished second in the Central Valley Conference while the men made the playoffs. In Year 2, the women made a jump by winning 15 games and earning a playoff berth. The men’s team competed all season but fell short of making the playoffs in a competitive conference.
“This is a strong soccer program in the Valley for both the men and the women,” added Yates.
Here’s a breakdown of each student-athlete:
School: Fresno Pacific
Gonzalez came to Clovis Community College in 2016 after graduating from Bullard High School with five varsity letters.
“I’m very excited [to continue my soccer career],” Gonzalez said. “It was nice being part of the inaugural team here at Clovis because you have a lot of people to support you.”
When Gonzalez first arrived on campus, he was immediately given responsibilities by being named a team captain. It was a big step at the time, but he filled that role despite being one of the youngest guys on the team.
Although he is no longer on the team, Gonzalez looks to continue to lead by example. Being the first to earn an athletic scholarship from the inaugural team is a lot of weight to carry, but he said it should be no problem meeting the expectations that come with it.
“I’m always going to have people watching me as I go over [to Fresno Pacific] because they want to see how the first [transfer] did,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a little bit of pressure but I feel I can reflect Clovis very well.”
During the ceremony, coach Chad McCarty had a few words to say about his first transfer.
“It’s with great pleasure that I announce and recognize the first men’s soccer player in Clovis Community College history to sign a full ride scholarship to a Division II college,” said men’s head coach Chad McCarty. “Juan is the epitome of the type of athletes we’re trying to get at Clovis Community [College]. On the field he’s tough, he works hard, he’s skillful, he’s a lead-by-example type of guy. Off the field he’s intelligent, he challenges himself, he’s disciplined in the classroom and he’s a fantastic representation for our school.”
School: Cal Baptist
A four-time letterwinner at Buchanan High, Soderholm signed with University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee out of high school before transferring to Clovis Community College.
During her final year with the program in 2017, she recorded 20 goals on her way to bring voted Central Valley Conference Offensive MVP, one of the first major conference awards won by a Crush women’s soccer player.
Soderholm will now take her talents to California Baptist University, a private school in Southern California.
“It feels good, I’ve work really hard for this,” Soderholm said of her athletic scholarship to CBU. “It’s like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my teammates and my awesome coaches.”
School: University of Antelope Valley
Soto, a teammate of Soderholm the last two years, is also moving onto the next level.
In her sophomore season with the Crush, the Hoover High product scored eight goals while being named First Team All Central Valley Conference.
Soto will be suiting up for University of Antelope Valley, a NAIA school in Lancaster, this fall.
“I’m going to bring my heart and give it my all,” Soto said. “I just love to play.”