Monday is always a somber day following any season in the sports world, but this Monday hit home in a way few ever have.
For the last 21 years, Mondays following the UTEP Soccer season came and went with the steadfast Coach Kevin Cross not only keeping his job but succeeding at his job. As the most winningest coach in UTEP Soccer history and one of only four coaches to amass 200 or more wins in UTEP Orange and Blue. The longest tenured current coach of UTEP Athletics, is now looking for a job.
“He built a regionally competitive program. As we look to take the next step and contend for conference championships, we felt like it was best to move in a new direction. We wish Kevin well in his future endeavors.” – UTEP Athletics
This isn’t going to be a piece on the justification of the decision, or why the decision was wrong, instead this will be about what I know of Coach Cross and how he will be severely missed, not only by UTEP but the community.
Those who have listened to the shows I’ve been on know I am NOT a soccer guy, I have never have been. However when Wil Herren introduced me to coach on one of the shows I could tell he was a man who cared not only about his sport, but most importantly his student athletes.
Keeping ties close to home, recruiting out of Canada and giving these young women a sense of being home. He came across as an “awesome” guy, the kind that truly loved the city of El Paso, as was evident by his many soccer camps.
He brought player after player to the KTEP studios late in the afternoon, giving them a chance to shine on the mic and tell their story. Never wanting or taking the spotlight, always putting the players first.
When he hired coaches, they were former players, people he helped mold into successful adults. He displayed his deep passion for winning as he piloted the Miners to the playoffs multiple times, and played for 3 Conference Championships, making the NCAA Tournament in 2005.
Coach Cross’ successor will have big shoes to fill, ones that have lead and fielded a competitive team year after year. I was lucky enough to enjoy the time I spent this year working with UTEP Soccer as a PA announcer. If not for Coach Cross, I am not too sure I’d ever have the chance to do PA.
Before and after each game we’d shake hands and his passion for the game and players was evident. Coach Cross truly was one of a kind for UTEP Athletics, but with a new tide comes changes. I don’t want to wish Coach “good luck” because he doesn’t need that. All I want to say is simply “Thank You”.