Alumnus named first-ever head coach of collegiate soccer program

Dec 17, 2020
antonio ledesma

Alumnus Antonio Ledesma ’05 has been named head men’s and women’s soccer coach for Trinity Valley Community College (TVCC) in his hometown of Athens, Texas. Ledesma is the first soccer coach for the college’s new program.

Ledesma began playing soccer at a young age and his love for the game has never subsided. Though his love of sports started with baseball, his friends introduced him to soccer at the age of 10 and he was hooked.

Ledesma said, “My friends convinced me to play goalkeeper because I was crazy enough to dive for anything.”

From that day on, he and his friends always found time to kick the soccer ball around.

He played on the Athens High School (AHS) soccer team and became the first AHS soccer player to play at a collegiate level.

When it came time to decide on a college, Ledesma chose Newman University, which became a home away from home. Before college, he had never left his home state of Texas.

He found Newman to be a good fit because of its Catholic identity and incredible soccer program led by longtime coach Cliff Brown.

When he arrived at Newman, he had to adjust to life away from home. Ledesma said Brown would always remind him why he was there and helped him keep his priorities in order, acting as a student before an athlete.

He found his place at Newman on the soccer team, in the Student Government Association, as a student ambassador for admissions and even took on the role of vice president for the International Students Association.

Not only did he enjoy academic and club activities but he excelled in his soccer career.

During his time at Newman, Ledesma participated in the final eight at the national tournament (2001). He was also a member of a regional championship team and won two conference championships.

Ledesma was named second-team all-conference as a junior and was an academic scholar-athlete as a junior and senior.

He graduated from Newman with a Bachelor of Science in counseling and a minor in criminal justice and sociology. He earned his Master of Arts in conflict management and dispute resolution from Baker University.

Ledesma took on a professional soccer opportunity after graduating from Newman, training and participating with Los Peces Blancos de Patzcuaro, a professional team in Mexico.

Afterward, he returned to his hometown and served as an assistant for the men’s and women’s soccer programs at Athens High School. After that, he returned to Wichita and began coaching youth club soccer and helped establish the FC Roar soccer club.

For the past two years, he’s been working in the advising department of TVCC, before being names the college’s soccer coach.

On top of his day job, he is a member of the Henderson County Soccer Association, serving as the director of the Adult Soccer League and facilities coordinator. He continues to coach youth club soccer and host youth development camps through the Henderson County Soccer Association in Athens.

He has enjoyed coaching club programs and soccer programs throughout his career.

“It’s always wonderful to see someone else enjoy the sport you love just as much as you do and have fun while they are learning,” he said. “The greatest moments come from the times where you see the light bulb turn on, so to say, or seeing a child who’s been working on one move finally able to master it.”

Since Ledesma wasn’t able to take part in club soccer opportunities as a child, he enjoys bringing those experiences to children like himself who otherwise may not get the opportunity.

As for his new role at TVCC, he’s looking forward to the challenge of building a soccer program from the ground up.

“It will take a little time, I know, but one of my goals is to build a program that the school and community is proud of,” he said. “Another is to reach those students that fall through the cracks and give them an opportunity to receive an education, and at the same time, compete for a program at a high level that promotes cultural diversity.”

He said he credits many of his teachings and training as a coach to his time with Brown.

“I think any player seems to take something from every coach he has worked with,” he said. “I have incorporated many things from my time as a player at Newman, from training sessions I recall and things Coach Brown told us daily and on game days.

“There was never a lack of passion from Coach Brown. There was always an intensity whether in practice or at a game and his expectations were very high for us. I think that was one of the main reasons we were successful.”

Ledesma said Brown treated his players like professionals and set his expectations from day one, something Ledesma has carried into his own coaching career.

Ledesma is looking forward to sharing his love and knowledge of the game with the incoming players. He will be challenged to coach both men’s and women’s but says he has confidence in the support of the school and dedicated assistant coaches to build two successful programs.