MARICOPA — In an attempt to showcase the talent that has come from Maricopa, and to show kids what is possible for their athletic ambitions, two community colleges will make a special trip to Copper Sky for their next game.
Both the men’s and women’s teams for GateWay Community College and Arizona Western College will play at Copper Sky on Saturday in regular season matches. The women will kick things off at 4:30 p.m. while the men will play at 7 p.m.
For Maricopa residents, the highlight of the day — and the reason the matches are being played here — will be seeing some familiar faces on the GateWay men’s team.
The GateWay Geckos feature eight players from Maricopa on their roster, including five who attended Maricopa High School. The former Rams are Brian Garcia, Pedro Olivares, Jaime Hernandez, Nicholas Perez and Ivan Mendez. Joseph Arciniegas, Reuben Phiri and Carlos Quintero-Mendez are from Maricopa but attended Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix.
That’s not the only Maricopa connection though. Greg Johnson is the head coach for the whole soccer program at GateWay, a job that can be overwhelming for one person. So he brought in Cortney Kellenaers, the head coach of the MHS boys soccer team, as an associate head coach who is in fact responsible for leading the men’s team.
With him taking charge on the sideline, and so many guys from Maricopa playing hard on the field at a higher level, Kellenaers is hoping the community — and a lot of kids who might not feel playing college soccer is attainable — will come out to support soccer in the city by cheering on the Geckos.
“I think kids might think you have to be a superstar to play college soccer,” he said. “So to have them come out and see the level of play with the community colleges could really change the way they think.”