Mighty Lizards Look to Surpass Expectations in Their Fifth Season of Play

Coach flies the TMCC Mighty Lizards flag upon the soccer field.
Cooper Fuchs

The 2023 offseason brought plenty of change for the Mighty Lizards in hopes of increasing community fandom, setting up for future success on the pitch, including current and former student-athletes completing their degrees. 2023 will go down in history as the first year TMCC hosted a youth soccer camp, which the college is excited to bring back next year. Athletics has also gone through substantial rebranding efforts at the field with windscreens, banners, customized corner flags, and a new athletic training table to provide greater ambiance while watching a Mighty Lizards soccer match this season. In addition, coaching changes hope to increase regular season success and a playoff push.

Youth Camp participants gather for a photo on the TMCC Soccer Field.

Youth Camp participants gather for a photo on the TMCC Soccer Field.

Youth Camp Success

Our inaugural Mighty Lizards Youth Camps were held from June 19-23 and July 10-14 and were nothing short of an accomplishment! With 50 campers over two sessions, kids ages 7-14 learned various but necessary skills to improve their spacial awareness, possession, passing, shooting, and goalie training. Across all skill levels, whether kids were seasoned club players, had a few years of American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) experience, or were at the camp to learn more about the fundamentals of soccer, we made sure that each participant was having fun playing the game above anything else. In addition, the Mighty Lizards Youth Camps led to an increased number of people in the Reno/Sparks area becoming aware of the college and our athletics, which reflected well over social media. TMCC Athletics hopes to continue these trends exponentially as the years progress.

Upcoming Season

With the 2023 season on the horizon, TMCC looks to improve from last year’s records with the hope of qualifying both the men and women for the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Region XVIII Tournament. The 2022 season saw the Mighty Lizard women enter the tournament for the first time in program history, while the Mighty Lizard men finished just outside Region XVIII Top Four, ultimately missing the competition.

Men's soccer team playing a scrimmage match on the field.

Men's soccer team playing a scrimmage match on the field.

Plenty of home games for the Mighty Lizards this season will be key to winning. These include (but aren’t limited to) the first home conference match against Colorado Northwestern Community College on Thursday, Sept. 7., a game against in-state rival College of Southern Nevada on Saturday, Sept. 23, which will include a parking lot tailgate before the first game of the Silver State Series, in addition to playing host to Salt Lake Community College, the reigning women’s regional champion, on Thursday, Oct. 12, with the reigning men’s regional champion Snow College coming to Reno on Saturday, Oct. 14.

Key returners for the Mighty Lizards women include forward and Reed High product Rylee Husted, including goalkeeper and Spanish Springs product Heidi Anavisca. A major force on the offensive front last year, Husted finished last season with eight goals and two assists over 13 games. Anavisca was a key defensive player for the Mighty Lizards the previous season, finishing 2022 with a .780 save percentage and four recorded shutouts.

“We’ll find out how obtainable it is to win a conference championship, whether in season or the tournament,” stated Coach Kyle Kelly. “A lot goes into that, but I think the more obtainable goal that we first look at is graduating students, getting them to become better students and better human beings from when they start to when they end.”

High-level talent returning for the Mighty Lizards men include defenders and Reno natives Diego Lopez and Ricky Cortes. Utah product Landon Allen will return as a midfielder, and Sparks native Connor Friesen will look to increase the offensive front.

Kickstart Tailgate Event vs. CSN

You’re invited to join us for the inaugural Kickstart Tailgate event on Saturday, Sept. 23, at the Dandini Campus, where we’ll be enthusiastically cheering on the Mighty Lizards for the in-state rival game with College of Southern Nevada. This fundraiser will benefit Mighty Lizard athletes with future scholarships. Bring your school spirit, noisemakers, and snacks! Reserve your spot today: $50 for an RV, $25 for a car, and a special rate of $10 for students. Sponsorships are also available. Gates open at 8:30 a.m.

The women's soccer team getting some practice in on the pitch.

The women's soccer team getting some practice in on the pitch.

Coaching Changes

Last year’s Interim Athletic Director, also men’s and women’s head coach Geoff Hawkins, will retain his Athletic Director title while only coaching the Mighty Lizards' women for 2023. Former men’s and women’s Assistant Coach Kyle Kelly promotes to Head Coach for the Mighty Lizard men’s team. This year will be Coach Hawkins’ fourth as a head coach at TMCC and Coach Kelly’s first year as a head coach for the Mighty Lizards. Kelly was formerly the head coach at Sierra Nevada University, having coached the women’s soccer program for four years. Both head coaches look for immediate success on the pitch while providing their athletes with the right academic tools to graduate on time.

“We’re striving for team GPAs consistently over 3.25, near 100% graduation rates, and continue our recruitment primarily from Nevada schools,” stated Hawkins. “Obviously, on the field, we want to consistently qualify for Regions, be in the running for the conference and regional titles, and continue to the national tournament.”