The man behind Pima’s soccer success

By BRIANNA HERNANDEZ

Navigating across town from sports complex to park with soccer equipment in tow is the seemingly never-ending routine for Dave Cosgrove, Pima Community College men’s soccer head coach.

Cosgrove never expected to have a life centered around coaching at Kino Stadium, then driving 20-plus minutes to coach practice for his under-18 youth team at Rillito Park.

“I never wanted to coach,” he said. “I stumbled onto it. A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to be a JV coach. I said yes, since I didn’t have much going on.”

Cosgrove had an instant connection with coaching.

“The second I walked out on the field, I fell in love with it. From that point on, I wanted to coach.” he said.

In 1996, he became a volunteer coach and later an assistant coach for PCC. Two years later, he would be offered the head coach position.

“I never envisioned being here for 19 full years as a head coach,” Cosgrove said. “The time has really flown by. It’s been a great challenge.”

Since he played and graduated from Pima, Cosgrove always has had a connection to the college.

“The school has been great to me,” he said. “ I’m always surprised by how many games have been played since I’ve been here.”

In Cosgrove’s tenure as head coach, the coach has garnered a NJCAA 2015 third place, NJCAA 1999 National Runner Up, 2013 Pima County Hall of Fame and 2013 NJCAA Soccer Hall of Fame.

“Cosgrove is someone I look up to,” said Kendra Veliz, PCC women’s soccer head coach. “His record of success speaks for itself. He is hardworking, demanding of his staff and players, but fair.”

On Oct. 23, Cosgrove was named ACCAC Region I Coach of the Year – an award he has received six times during his coaching career.

“You can’t argue with results,” said sophomore midfielder Chris Cooper. “His record has been incredible at Pima, especially in recent years.”

Early roots

Cosgrove took to playing soccer at the age of 9.

“I picked up soccer when I went to England with my family in 1976,” he said.

When Cosgrove came back to Tucson, he joined the Fort Lowell Soccer Club.

Through a burst of laughter, Cosgrove said that he had few accomplishments throughout his playing career.

“I was a pretty average player who was lucky enough to play with some good players and coaches,” he said. “Really a highlight of my playing career would be when I played for Pima in 1988. We went to the national championship, where we finished second.”

In 1992, Cosgrove was a national runner-up playing for the semi-professional Tucson Amigos, a U.S. Indoor Soccer League team.

Giving back to Tucson

In 2000, Cosgrove and a group of local coaches and soccer club presidents came together to create the Tucson Soccer Academy. It’s a youth club recognized as a Nike affiliate and one of the founding clubs to be invited to play in the boy’s Elite Clubs National League.

“TSA has been phenomenal,” Cosgrove said. “I was lucky enough to be associated with some great people who wanted to put something together that had never been done before in Tucson.”

According to Cosgrove, back in the 1980s, there were few clubs to choose to play for.

“There was like one to two coaches back then who knew what they were doing,” Cosgrove said. “I think the level of soccer in Tucson now compared to even 2000 has significantly improved.

“TSA has really pushed other clubs in the city to do a better job,” he added. “Which I think many of the other clubs now do. It has raised the level across the board from coaches, players and organizations.”

Since the establishment of the club, many of the players Pima ends up acquiring are former TSA athletes.

“The existence of TSA is directly related to the quality of players we get at Pima,” Cosgrove said. “Almost all the time our starting lineup is 75 percent TSA kids, if not more.”

Cosgrove estimates that a total of 80 percent of athletes who have played for Pima are from TSA.

At 11 years old, Cooper played for Cosgrove at TSA.

“He is a great coach that has kept me motivated and focused over the years,” Cooper said. “He has a special way of bringing out the best in his players and inspires our team to keep improving each time we take the field.”

Balancing act

Finding a balance between coaching and family has never been difficult for Cosgrove.

“I think any job requires balance,” Cosgrove said. “I’m very lucky my wife and kids have always known me as a soccer coach. I’ve never done anything else. The demand has always been there since I met my wife, and she has been incredibly supportive.”

The support is needed, as Cosgrove’s coaching responsibilities have him traveling outside of Tucson for much of the year.

“She has made it very easy,” Cosgrove said. “I feel very fortunate because I know a lot of coaches and a lot of professions find striking that balance very difficult.”

Photo by Ben Carbarjal Dave Cosgrove coaches during a game.

Filed Under: SoccerSports

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