Curvelo prepares for next chapter

·4 min read

Jul. 16—HUNTSVILLE — Sam Houston State University women's soccer was left without a head coach when Tom Brown stepped down after 14 seasons in March.

However, the Kats didn't have to go far to find their next leader of the program. Sam Houston hired Prairie View A&M's head coach Sonia Curvelo to head the program on May 17.

Curvelo comes to the Bearkats after four seasons with the Lady Panthers leading them to two SWAC championships and two NCAA tournament appearances.

"I think it's a great opportunity for the women's soccer program to do something special at Sam Houston," Curvelo said. "I'm very motivated in helping our student-athletes to achieve their first championship title."

Over the last couple of years, the Sam Houston soccer program has seen some ups-and-downs. Last season, the Kats were the last team to secure a spot in the WAC Southwest division's bracket as the third seed.

The Kats would drop that game 1-6 to Utah Valley, ending the season.

In the 2021 spring season, Sam Houston would find themselves one game away from their first NCAA tournament appearance.

Curvelo is excited to help this program and get them to their first conference title and NCAA tournament appearance in school history.

"I think they are going to see a change," Curvelo said. "I'm very competitive and they are going to see that come out in the players. I'm going to try and bring the best out of them. Hopefully, it will bring the best out of them and the others. They are going to have the mentality that they can do anything and want to work hard. That's one of the things I have been able to demonstrate in my previous programs. Everyone that is involved in the program is going to give 100% and that is the expectation. We are all looking to improve and get better every day."

Curvelo has already made an impact on the program. She has now brought in her PVAMU assistant Oscar Mendoza and is still looking to bring on another coach.

She also feels the university is backing her and the soccer program. Currently, Sam Houston has recommended $298,960 towards the soccer program in 2022.

"I think it's a great opportunity for the women's soccer program to do something special at Sam Houston," Curvelo said. "I'm very motivated in helping our student-athletes to achieve their first championship title." "I thought the athletic administration and president [Alisa] White. Where they see the future for women's soccer, they are invested in us as a program to be successful. I think that is key."

As Curvelo got the job after a big recruiting season, the roster this season for Sam Houston will look similar to years past.

But to prepare for future seasons, Curvelo has been out on recruiting trips since she was hired trying to find future Bearkats for the flip to Conference USA. For now, she's looking for commitment from her team.

"I already have my team now and I'm looking to build," Curvelo said. "I think that is going to be important. We have to continue to recruit high-caliber players and build off the program and the players we have now. The players we have now will help build our foundation and I care about their experience as well. We have to understand that it's four years for a student-athlete to play. As long as everybody does their part and shows improvement we will see results."

While Bearkat fans are looking ahead to the school moving into Conference USA on July 1, 2023, so is Curvelo. These decisions also played a big role in her accepting the job to lead the Bearkats.

The competition will take itself up a level but will give the Bearkats a chance to recruit higher caliber players.

"It was a huge and deciding factor as well," Curvelo said. "There is a lot of traveling in the WAC but moving to Conference USA is great. It will be an opportunity to recruit higher caliber players and the travel isn't as extreme. I think we will have to adjust and make the best for what's to come every day."

No schedule has been released for Sam Houston soccer but it is expected within the coming weeks. Because the University of Incarnate Word backed out of the WAC and Lamar left for the Southland a year early, schedules had to receive a conference overhaul.

Curvelo is ready to experience her first game on the historic Pritchett Field on the campus of Sam Houston State University.

"I'm just looking forward to seeing the supporters in Huntsville and Sam Houston," Curvelo said. "I'd like to build the fan base for women's soccer and I know that the more you win, the larger the crowd. I'm looking forward to the game day experience with this program."