Eastern Arizona College’s first-ever soccer games are to be held on Aug. 19 at John Mickelson Field

Photos By Tracee Peters/EAC: From left, former Safford Bulldog Derek Nabor will help kick off EAC’s inaugural season along with Abigail Schmidt on the girls’ team when EAC begins its inaugural foray into the collegiate soccer world on Aug. 19, starting at 5 p.m.

Raffles, food trucks, the EAC Band, and free admission

By Kris McBride

Photo By Tracee Peters/EAC: Derek Nabor – a former Safford Bulldog – will join Gila Monster teammates from throughout the world in EAC’s inaugural soccer games on Aug. 19 at John Mickelson Stadium.

THATCHER – For the first time in the history of the Gila Valley, collegiate soccer will take to the field. EAC’s inaugural men’s and women’s soccer games will kick off on Aug. 19, at John Mickelson Field, in a match against the College of Southern Nevada Coyotes. Gates open at 4 p.m. with the women starting at 5 p.m. and the men kicking off at 7 p.m. Admission is free and the match will feature raffles, food trucks, merch, and EAC’s Band.

“This is a historic moment and we’d love for the public to help us celebrate,” said Paul Demuth, EAC athletic director. “We’re so excited for the Gila Valley to watch world-class soccer in their own backyard.”

Derek Nabor, a local athlete from Safford, will join teammates from all over the world on EAC’s inaugural men’s soccer team. Nabor played for the Safford Bulldogs, finishing the 2022-2023 season with 27 points, including 12 goals and three assists in his role as a striker. For his efforts, he was named to the 3A Southeast Region First Team during his senior year. He was also the 3A South Offensive Player of the Year and part of the 3A First Team All-Conference during this junior year.

Another standout player for the Gila Monster men’s team is Bruno Hurtado from Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Hurtado’s high school team, the Santa Cruz Cooperative School, won the state championship in 2021 and 2022 and the national championship in 2021.

Nabor and Hurtado join 31 other teammates from Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, Brazil, Caicos Islands, Estonia, Ghana, Jamaica, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Four of the 29 athletes on the Gila Monster women’s team are from the Gila Valley. Melodie Alder, Ashlin Baum, and Cailin Larson are from Thatcher and Erin Richardson is from Safford. “It’s a change of pace to play with such skilled athletes from all over the world,” said Cailin Larson. “I never thought I’d get the chance to play on a team like this and am so glad EAC is offering soccer.”

Photo By Tracee Peters/EAC: Abigail Schmidt from Utah Lehi High School will join her Gila Monster teammates in EAC’s first-ever soccer games on Aug. 19, at John Mickelson Stadium.

Another standout athlete on the women’s team is Kylee Holt from Utah Cedar Valley High School in Eagle Mountain, Utah. Holt was the lead goal scorer her senior year and was a captain for her team that made it into the semi-finals of the state championship. “I chose EAC because I love Arizona and wanted to be part of Coach Long’s team,” said Holt. “Coach Long has a whole bunch of ideas and can see the game really well and how it should flow.”

Larson and Holt join teammates from Nevada, Texas, Brazil, the Cayman Islands, France, Holland, Jamaica, and Japan.

For more information on EAC’s men’s and women’s Gila Monster soccer teams, go to www.eacmonsters.com. For tickets, visit www.eac.edu and click on “Get Tickets.”

Enroll Today in EAC Fall Classes:  Classes begin on August 21. Call EAC’s Financial Aid Office at (928) 428-8287 for details. Register by calling EAC’s Records and Registration Office at (928) 428-8270, or online at www.eac.edu.

About Eastern Arizona College:

Eastern Arizona College – the first community college in Arizona – has helped students claim their dreams since 1888. With campuses in Thatcher, Globe, and Payson, EAC’s qualified and caring instructors prepare students for the most in-demand careers and advanced study at universities. EAC offers more than 80 certificates and degrees, including the #1 nursing school in Arizona, a fine arts program featuring the only marching band in Arizona, and an engineering program that brings students up to speed for success at universities and top-tiered firms. Students thrive at EAC, making friendships that last a lifetime. EAC’s vibrant student experience includes on-campus housing, more than 30 clubs and organizations, active intramurals, and nationally-ranked athletic and e-sports teams. At EAC, most students leave with $0 debt. Let EAC provide an affordable way for you to claim your dreams. Contact admissions@eac.edu or call (928) 428-8272 today.