Kicking up the college ranks

For former Cortez soccer player Anthony Presnell, the assent from small-town soccer player to college coach has been a fast one. Recently hired as an assistant men’s soccer coach for Regis University in Denver, Presnell has combined his small-town background with a big-time work ethic to rise quickly up the coaching ranks.

A 2005 graduate of Montezuma-Cortez High School, Presnell enrolled at the University of Northern Arizona (NAU) to pursue a degree in Business Administration in Marketing. While attending school, Presnell founded and coached the University of Northern Arizona Club Soccer Team, which has since evolved into a self-sustaining nonprofit club sports organization.

“The club team became the catalyst for everything that I wanted to do,” said Presnell. “I learned how to run a college team, and I built my life around coaching.”

After graduating from NAU in 2010, Presnell was hired as head coach of Red Mountain High School in Mesa, Ariz., where he coached for two years. While at Red Mountain, Presnell was named Mesa All-City High School Coach of the Year in back-to-back seasons.

Using his high school coaching success as a springboard, Presnell broke into the college ranks as an assistant for Mesa Community College in 2011. From the start, Presnell was in love with college coaching.

“Being around so many intelligent, like-minded people was great,” said Presnell. “So many players and coaches shared the same ideas and ambitions as me.”

Between 2010 and 2012, Presnell worked at various camps throughout the state of Colorado. During that time, he made connections with various coaches and showcased great potential.

“I sacrificed a lot,” explained Presnell. “I worked extremely hard for three years to get people’s attention.”

Early in 2013, Presnell’s hard work paid off when he was hired as the top assistant coach for the men’s soccer program at Regis. A perennial contender at the Division II level, Regis was ranked #1 in the country for three weeks during the 2012 season.

“I’m very excited to coach at Regis,” said Presnell. “The coaching staff I’m with has had a lot of success. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot.”

For Presnell, the journey to his current position would not have been possible had it not been for his formative years in Cortez.

“Growing up in Cortez, you have to be very self-motivated,” said Presnell. “You have to have a passion and a desire. I was lucky enough to have very good coaches at a very young age. They put me on the path to where I am now.”

As for the future, Presnell is unsure of where coaching may take him, but he would like to be a head coach at a big university at some point.

“Soccer allows me to express myself,” explained Presnell. “I want to keep coaching for as long as I can.”

With his unwavering combination of drive and determination, it seems likely that Presnell will be a major force as a college soccer coach in the years to come.

imaclaren@cortezjournal.com