A&M-San Antonio intercollegiate athletics program reaches another milestone in launching inaugural competitive season

By University Communications

San Antonio – Texas A&M University-San Antonio continues its progress to launch its first intercollegiate athletics program with the appointment of its first three coaches and an associate athletics director. The university will launch its first competitive season next spring, a decision that was recently approved by the Red River Conference.

The new hires include a San Antonio native, Hall of Famer and former professional golfer; a former Women’s Premier League Soccer standout originally from Austin; and a native San Antonio softball player and coach with a track record of producing titles.

“In making the decision to begin our first competitive season in spring 2021 rather than fall, we considered the impact of COVID-19 and our focus on meeting the standards of excellence we are striving for in this young program,” said Darnell Smith, A&M-San Antonio’s director of athletics. “These coaches and associate athletics director bring a record of commitment to the student and student-athlete experience. I am excited for the team I have assembled and look forward to seeing the programs compete in a highly regarded association and conference.”

The new coaches include:

  • Christi Cano, a San Antonio native and five-time winner of the city’s Women’s Amateur Golf Championship and an All-American at Oklahoma State, will lead the men’s golf team at A&M-San Antonio. She returns to San Antonio from the University of Houston-Victoria, where she served as the women’s and men’s golf coach for the past three years. Cano, who played professionally in the LPGA, competed in three U.S. Women’s Opens and won the Texas Women’s Open in 2013. Cano has been named to the National Hispanic Sports Hall of Fame and the San Antonio Independent School District Sports Hall of Fame, among many honors. For more detailed biographic information, go to tamusa.edu/athletics/staff/christi-cano.html.

“I am extremely excited to be a part of this historic time for Texas A&M-San Antonio Athletics. The opportunity to come back home to San Antonio and lead a golf program in my community is a dream come true. I am passionate about two things in life: my community and coaching the next generation of collegiate golfers. To now have both, I feel like I am where I was meant to be. It is not every day that you get to have your dream job twice, and I am honored to be named the first men’s golf coach at A&M-San Antonio.”

  • Leslie Pierce brings to the inaugural A&M-San Antonio women’s soccer team an extensive soccer background, including success as a professional in the Women’s Premier League in London and as a high school and college coach in various club programs and as a head coach at Faulkner University. Most recently, she coached in youth soccer and served as director of coaching in Alabama and Texas. She has received a “D” level license from the United States Soccer Federation, as well as an NSCAA Futsal Level 1 Diploma and Coerver Team Coach Certification. A native of Austin, Faulkner helped the Harding University squad reach the NCAA Division II national tournament. During her Premier League career in the United Kingdom, Pierce was named “Player of the Match” four times in the 2008-09 season, helping to lead her team to a second-place finish. For more detailed biographic information, go to tamusa.edu/athletics/staff/leslie-pierce.html.

“I am very excited to be a part of this university and its community! I can’t wait to get the women’s soccer program going, as well as the other sports. I believe this is a great place to be, and I am very blessed to be here!”

  • Nicole Dufour, a graduate of Southside High School in San Antonio, has coached softball at the high school and collegiate levels. She most recently served as an assistant at Concordia Texas squad, helping the Tornadoes reach their conference tournament for the first time since 2000. As an assistant coach at St. Amant High School, Dufour helped lead the Gators to two 20-win seasons and playoff appearances. During her high school coaching career, Dufour led teams to district championships and coached multiple academic All-Americans. For more detailed biographic information, go to tamusa.edu/athletics/staff/nicole-dufour.html.

“I am feeling beyond blessed and excited to be a part of this amazing opportunity, especially in an area that is home to me. I can’t thank the administration enough for allowing me to join such a wonderful university and to help build this athletics program.”

In addition to the coaching hires, Smith also selected Stephen Sherman, originally from Dickinson, Texas, to serve as associate athletics director and help build the infrastructure for the athletics department. Sherman most recently served as an assistant athletics director, as well as head cross country and track and field coach at Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU). He brings both coaching and athletics administration background to his work at A&M-San Antonio. For more detailed biographic information, go to tamusa.edu/athletics/staff/stephen-sherman.html.

“I could not be more excited to join the athletics staff at Texas A&M-San Antonio. I had a great situation at OLLU, and so it was going to take a special place to get me away from there. A&M –-San Antonio is that place. The administration, as well as everyone else working at A&M-San Antonio, has a tremendous vision for where they want the university to be and, perhaps more importantly, is aggressively pursuing that vision. I am looking forward to contributing to that cause.”

To learn more about A&M-San Antonio Athletics, go to tamusa.edu/athletics.

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Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Established as a stand-alone university in 2009, Texas A&M University-San Antonio is a comprehensive, four-year public university that reflects the culturally diverse, heritage-rich community it serves. Situated on nearly 700 acres in south San Antonio, A&M-San Antonio is a Military Embracing™ institution offering 29 undergraduate degrees and 14 graduate degrees to over 6,700 students. The university is home to the Henry G. Cisneros Institute for Emerging Leaders and the Cyber Engineering Technology/Cyber Security Research Center. A&M-San Antonio holds the Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) designation. Military Times ranks the University No. 35 in the nation for “Best for Vets: Colleges.” Visit tamusa.edu for more information. #onamission