With less than two weeks of practice under their cleats, Clovis Community College’s first women’s soccer team will compete in their first official game Saturday, Aug. 27 against Sierra College in Rocklin.
Head coach Orlando Ramirez is ready to work hard in the upcoming, inaugural season.
“I was officially hired two weeks (before the start of school), so recruiting has been fast and furious,” Ramirez said. “Obviously there’s a lot of challenges for a first-year program, but we’re going to prepare these women as much as possible to compete in every game.”
After going 4 for 4 in Central Section Div. I girls soccer titles as head coach for Buchanan High School, Ramirez resigned last year to spend more time with his wife, Casie, and sons Jude, 5, and Owen, 2.
At the time, he was also teaching English and history at Alta Sierra Intermediate School and assisting his father, Jaime Ramirez, at Fresno Pacific University in the Sunbirds’ men’s soccer program. Making the trek from southeast Fresno to north Clovis almost daily took its toll, Ramirez said.
“Taking a year off was a chance to see where I wanted to go and take time to reevaluate where I wanted my future to be,” Ramirez said. “This opportunity to teach and coach full-time here at Clovis Community, for me and my family, is the best thing. This particular position afforded me the opportunity to be in one place and do what I love to do.”
The 2001 Roosevelt High graduate became an NAIA All-American in a four-year career at Fresno Pacific. He played for the Premier Development League’s Fresno Fuego, helping them to two national semifinals.
In 2005, Ramirez became the highest draft pick in the Sunbirds’ program history when the San Jose Earthquakes selected him 31st overall in the Major League Soccer Draft. After his one year with the Earthquakes, Ramirez returned to graduate from Fresno Pacific and earn his teaching credential.
“Clovis Community College is fortunate to have someone of Coach Ramirez’s caliber to lead the inaugural women’s soccer program,” Susan Yates, CCC’s athletic director, was quoted in a news release. “He is a local all-star and Valley native and possesses the experience to launch a top soccer team that adds to the exceptional programs offered at Clovis Community College.”
After his playing career, Ramirez joined Fresno Pacific’s coaching staff as an assistant coach and served in that role for eight seasons from 2008-2016, helping lead the Sunbirds to three conference championships and five national tournament appearances.
His Buchanan Bears girls team went 78-17-9 from 2011 to 2015, claiming four Valley championships and three conference championships. Ramirez earned two conference Coach of the Year awards in that time.
“My eight years at Fresno Pacific has prepared me for the rigors of what it takes to be in a day-to-day college environment here, and Buchanan’s expectation was very high and the program was very successful,” Ramirez said. “Taking both of those experiences and merging them together here seemed like a perfect fit for me.”
The team, loaded with talented women who excelled on their high school and travel soccer teams in the past, is learning the cohesion necessary for success, Ramirez said.
“It’s going to be a fun season. We travel a lot; there are a lot of away games, which is great for team bonding. We’ll get to create some of those traditions and develop our team culture,” he said.
He’s also ready for the community to rally around Clovis Crush.
“We want to create a fun environment here for our home games and we’re excited to get people out there.”
Clovis Community College is part of the Central Valley Conference of the California Community College Athletic Association.
The first home match will be played against Siskiyous College at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6.