By JAIME HERNANDEZ
Soccer has been a part of Dave Cosgrove’s life for 43 years. The Tucson native, who now serves as the Pima Community College men’s soccer coach, was introduced to the game at a young age.
“I think they had just discovered fire when I learned how to play the game,” Cosgrove jokes.
In reality, he discovered soccer in 1974 when his father, a history professor at the University of Arizona, took a sabbatical to England.
When Cosgrove returned to Tucson six months later, only about 40 people he knew played the sport. As time progressed, it became more popular.
Cosgrove wasn’t the most skilled soccer player growing up. He learned to maximize his talents through hard work on the practice field.
He gives the majority of the credit to his father, Richard Cosgrove, who was always there to support his son’s dreams of playing soccer.
Cosgrove went on to play soccer at Catalina High School. He enrolled at PCC in 1987 and also played for the Aztecs.
Many people influenced Cosgrove throughout his life.
“The most influential person was Ibrahim Abousaoud,” Cosgrove says. “The happiest memories I have are when I was playing for him at Pima and in youth club.”
Cosgrove’s Pima team lost in the regional finals in 1987.
In 1988, he was named captain and became an academic All-American. The Aztecs made it to the national championship game, where they lost to Mercer Community College 1-0.
Once his playing days were behind him, Cosgrove decided to give coaching a try.
He became the coach for Amphitheater High School boys’ soccer in 1992, and remains the school’s leader in wins. His teams made the regional playoffs each year.
Cosgrove became coach of the Aztecs in 1997. Heading into this season, he had compiled an overall record of 227-85-22.
The Aztecs made their second trip to the NJCAA National Championship game in 1999, but lost 3-2 to State Fair College. State Fair had to vacate the championship after the NJCAA determined the team used ineligible players.
Since he began coaching at PCC, Cosgrove has been named the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference Coach of the Year five times. He has twice been named the West Region Coach of the Year.
Pima has finished in the top 15 national rankings 10 times, and his teams have been a Region I finalist nine times. He has coached 14 All-Americans and more than 60 All-Conference players.
“He’s a fantastic leader in terms of who these kids are and who they want to be one day,” assistant coach Henry Brauner says. “He gets the most out of every player that comes through this program and that’s very hard to do.”
Sophomore midfielder Cesar Quintero calls Cosgrove an amazing coach, saying, “He does everything possible to make me a better player and person.”
In 2000, Cosgrove helped found the Tucson Soccer Academy. The academy’s purpose is to improve soccer across the Tucson area by matching the best coaches with the best players. He became the academy’s coaching director in 2004, and still holds that position today.
“He’s been my coach since I was 11,” PCC freshman midfielder Arturo Vega says. “He’s always taught me to be a team player, and that you must always work hard for things you want.”
Cosgrove’s success story will rise to new levels when he is inducted into two sports halls of fame: the
Pima County Sports Hall of Fame on Oct. 27 and the National Junior College Athletic Association Men’s Soccer Hall of Fame on Nov. 11. Cosgrove credits Yavapai College men’s soccer coach Mike Pantilione for his NJCAA induction.
“He’s the most successful junior college coach in the country, and I’ve tried to emulate my program after his,” he says.
The invitation to the Pima County Hall of Fame carries a special place in Cosgrove’s heart.
“I grew up in Tucson, I played in Tucson and I coached in Tucson,” he says. “This is my community. To be recognized by that community for all the effort you’ve put into it is a great honor.”