When the Mighty Lizards take the field this Fall, they will be led by a talented and experienced coaching staff. Head Coach Nick Arbelaez recruited coaches who would support the teams’ successes on the field as well as their retention in the classroom. “We are setting the foundation of where the program will go,” said Arbelaez who found local coaches who have palpable energy and passion for the game.
Arbelaez is looking forward to the pre-season, which is a mere 10 weeks away, with coaching staff that will lead the Mighty Lizards through a successful first season. “I had the opportunity to work with all of these coaches before in the Olympic Development Program of Northern Nevada. We have a cohesive group—we all have the same goal in mind for our students. We want to be an example for them that they can emulate in their soccer careers.”
The coaching staff, which features two coaches for the women’s squad, Mary Stammers and Ally Freitas, a coach for the men’s team, Brian Slusser and a Goalkeeper Coach, Gonzalo Lopez, for both teams.
Mary Stammers, Women’s Soccer Coach
Stammers began playing soccer at the age of four and continued her pursuit of the sport through participation in high school and club teams in the bay area. She moved to Reno to go to college and played soccer for the UNR Club Team. “I started coaching in the Bay Area in 2013 for a community center in Concord—all different age groups.” Currently, Stammers is a coach for a “07 girls team” for girls 11-12 years old. She’s thrilled to be a part of the Mighty Lizards coaching team.
“The biggest thing is to help with making sure the kids are doing well in school, also doing well in the field,” she said. “That’s very important and we will continue to place a lot of emphasis on academics. I’m looking forward to the season,” she said.
Ally Freitas, Women’s Soccer Coach
Freitas, a Northern Nevada local, began her soccer career early playing both recreationally and competitively from the age of four. “Having grown up playing soccer in this area, I am excited that we will have a collegiate team here,” she said.
In college, Freitas played soccer for San Francisco State before she transferred to UNR where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Soccer, though, remains her passion: she continues to play for the WSPL team. Her coaching career began 8-10 years ago when she started coaching a local community club team that was previously Nevada Elite and is now Nevada United. She emphasizes youth development in her work with coaching community club teams.
Freitas is thrilled to join the Mighty Lizards coaching team. “This program is an awesome local option for players who are looking to elevate their game, but who aren’t quite ready for a four-year school,” she said. “It’s also a great way for student-athletes to get acclimated to the academic side of things. TMCC has a great program to get kids prepped and ready for a future that includes a college education and soccer. I’m looking forward to working with our athletes who really represent the talent of Northern Nevada.”
Brian Slusser, Men’s Soccer Coach
Slusser is no stranger to the field: a lifelong soccer player and current USSF National License holder with over 20 years of Personal Training experience and an MS in Sports Administration, Slusser has already served as athlete and coach for a considerable amount of time. “Having been a college athlete myself, I know what the experience is like and I want to pass that on to the next crop of players—to make their experience as a student-athlete a positive one.”
Slusser was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he played soccer for high school and club teams. He continued his soccer career in college where he played for Missouri Southern State University, which led to his professional career with the USISL New Mexico Chilies. In addition to his extensive experience on the field, Slusser has 28-years of coaching experience with soccer clubs (the Albuquerque United Football Club, the Capital Soccer Club in Carson City and the NV North ODP); as well as high school soccer (including Manzano High school, the 1999 Arizona State Champion, which was ranked 23rd in the nation.) Of his future with the Mighty Lizards, he said: “I’m looking forward to giving young men a place to play locally… and I look forward to bringing my experience as a player and in exercise physiology to help improve the program and to bring an elite style of soccer to TMCC.”
Gonzalo Lopez, Goalkeeper Coach
2019 will be Coach Lopez’s 24th season of coaching soccer. A Nevada resident for over 40 years, Lopez has brought his love of soccer—and in particular, his love of proper technique—to soccer players of all ages in the Reno/Sparks area as a Goalkeeper coach for various local high schools, for AYSO (where he served as a coach and board member), for the Great Basin Soccer Leagues and the Northern Nevada Olympic Development program.
In joining the new coaching roster, Lopez is looking forward to working with the athletes. “I want to give athletes the fundamentals, to give them the ability to play the game the right away—so if they pursue a soccer career, they will do it with the proper technique.” This focus on skills is essential for injury-prevention as well as performance.
“My goals, at first, are to evaluate the players to see what they need in terms of mechanics and skill,” said Lopez.
Soccer Season isn't Far Away
The Mighty Lizards roster (which will be finalized in the coming months) looks to feature 66 student-athletes between the Men’s and Women’s teams. Forty-nine of those athletes are from Washoe County. The season will feature 22 games, with the first official kick-off to the season on August 15 in a home game against Feather River College from Quincy, California.
For more information about TMCC’s Athletics program, contact the department at 775-673-7135.