Dave Cosgrove never thought he’d be coaching at Pima Community College for 19 years. Forget about winning 300 matches and consistently leading one of the top teams in the country.
But it’s all a reality for Cosgrove, who is considered one of the premier soccer coaches in southern Arizona, in the state and, likely, in the nation given his recent success.
“Three hundred (victories) is great. It is a testament to the quality of players Tucson puts out ever year,” said Cosgrove, who on Thursday picked up win 300 to help his team advance to the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference finals on Saturday night. “With the help and support of Pima College, we have been able to establish a structure, culture and set of expectations that all the players and teams strive to meet every year.”
This season has been somewhat magical, even if it finished second in the ACCAC regular season behind Yavapaii. The Roadrunners have been disposed and now Pima (17-3-1) is the team to beat. It faces No. 5 seed Phoenix on Saturday.
“Phoenix College is very good. They are sophomore loaded and talented players,” Cosgrove said. “They have just destroyed the teams in the playoffs, including Yavapai. It is a very difficult match up. If we can get past Phoenix College I think Pima will have a very good chance to advance to Nationals and compete for a National title. Our region is the toughest in the country so getting out of our region is very difficult.”
It did so with a bunch of locals, which arguably was part of his all-time best recruiting class a year ago. Coupled with last season’s nice run to a third-place finish at nationals and the program surging, it’s created the right mix of moxie and determination.
“Since 2010, Pima has gone from a top 20 team to a top five team,” he said. “We were No. 5 in 2011 and 2014. No. 4 in 2015. I call it the golden age of Pima Men’s Soccer. We do it with 90 percent southern Arizona players. When we go to Nationals we are the only team without housing or international players (at Pima). To be able to compete against these schools with their resources and money is almost unthinkable.”
Just as unthinkable as his career has been the last couple of decades. He joined Pima in 1996 as an assistant then became the head coach in 1998. Ironically, he’s been the coach on a part-time basis until this year when he was given full-time status.
“It has been my hope to join Pima full time for the last seven years, so I am super excited,” he said. “I am a product of Pima College and a huge advocate Pima College. Pima has been a central part of my life since 1987 as a student and coach. Pima has changed my life in so many ways for the better.”
He’s returned the favor with 300 victories and numerous awards, including being named ACCAC coach of the year five times.
“I still love coaching,” he said, “I continue to learn how to coach and communicate with kids. Every year is a new challenge. I feel like the luckiest person in Tucson. I get paid to coach at Tucson Soccer Academy and Pima. If I won the lottery I would still be coaching in both programs. My wife and family are 100 percent supportive so it makes it even easier. I can’t imagine doing anything different. Honestly, Im not sure I would be qualified for anything different.”