By Dave Wagner
Travis McCorkle already had his hands full as coach of the men’s and women’s soccer teams at Eastern New Mexico University.
And that was before the resignation of a newly hired assistant coach earlier this summer, which left McCorkle scrambling to find another full-time coach less than a month before the start of practice.
“It was terrible,” he said of the process. “The whole thing was a nightmare.”
Enter 30-year-old Carlos Elizondo, an El Paso native who interviewed for the job on July 31 and began his new duties five days later.
While McCorkle is technically the head coach of both programs, he has turned most of the duties of the first-year men’s program over to Elizondo. Each team also has a graduate assistant — Harold Munoz for the men, Angela Taylor for the women.
“I wouldn’t say it’s slowed down that much, but it’s alleviated a lot of stress,” McCorkle said of his daily regimen. “Carlos is handling practically everything for the men’s team.
“Carlos’ personality and mine just seem to mesh, and that makes it easier. And having the grad assistants — they do so many things behind the scenes that are important.”
McCorkle watches men’s practice and talks to Elizondo about what he sees, but he said his role is more like a pro sports general manager at this point.
Elizondo, who has coached primarily club-level and Olympic developmental programs, said McCorkle takes care of most of the administrative duties.
“Coming in at the last minute, I would’ve been completely overwhelmed with the administrative part of it,” he said. “He’s made the transition much easier.
“It’s been an ideal situation for me. He knew I could come in and coach the team, and that I’d need a little assistance on the (administrative) side. It works out perfectly for me.”
Most of his players will be freshmen and sophomores, but the Greyhounds are counting on a few transfers to give them a boost.
Outside midfielder Joseph Alvarez, who came to Eastern after three seasons at rival West Texas A&M, isn’t that concerned that he’s the team’s lone senior.
“We had a lot of good people that came in,” said Alvarez, who is from Oklahoma City. “It’s going to be difficult, but I think we’ll do well.
“I liked the opportunity of starting a new program, and I really liked the coaches here.”
The teams will play eight doubleheaders, including the first six outings. ENMU squads open the season on August 27 against Texas Wesleyan in Fort Worth.
Meantime, the women’s squad has already lost three returning players for the season to injuries — sophomore midfielder Katie Matthews quit after a series of concussions, while sophomore forward Kayla McKamey and sophomore defender Bethany Vaccaro both had ACL injuries.
In the program’s second season, the Zias can still build around a corps of eight other returning players.
“I think we have a lot more potential (over last season),” junior defender Pam Campbell said. “We had a decent year (3-12) last year as a first-year team, but we have a lot more depth and I think we’ll surprise some people.”
Campbell doesn’t think either team will suffer from the coaching situation.
“I’m excited for the guys team,” she said. “It seems like they’re working hard. (Elizondo) has really good credentials, and I think they’ll do well too.”