FORT WORTH, Texas (April 29, 2016) – Tarrant County College (TCC) and the Fort Worth Vaqueros today announced Kick Start, a new education initiative through which Vaqueros players will attend TCC full-time as part of their Vaqueros contracts. The players’ tuition will be funded by the Vaqueros ownership and the soccer club’s corporate partners.
The collaboration is the first of its kind for the Vaqueros, a member of the National Premier Soccer League. TCC is the first community college in the country to team with a professional sports organization to offer players an opportunity to earn their degrees. Beginning this fall, team owner Michael Hitchcock expects all club players without a college education to complete an associate degree at TCC.
“TCC’s reputation for providing a diverse offering of academic programs made it a great fit for our young players needing an affordable, high quality education along with schedule flexibility,” said Tobias Xavier Lopez, director of business operations for the Fort Worth Vaqueros and a TCC graduate. “If one kid can walk out of here with a two-year degree that sets him up for a career or sets him up to move to the next level, that’s a success to me.”
According to Joy Gates Black, TCC’s vice chancellor of academic affairs and student success, this collaboration is designed to make education easier to obtain for the school’s newest student-athletes.
“This unique program demonstrates TCC’s continued commitment to putting success within reach for the people of Tarrant County and, in this case, helping Vaquero players make a successful transition from the playing field once their soccer careers have ended,” Gates Black said.
Tuition for a full-time, in-county student enrolled in 15 hours at TCC totals $885 per semester, not counting learning materials, making it one of the most affordable rates in the country.
Internationally, many professional soccer players begin their careers at a young age, which means they don’t attend college or a trade school. Vaqueros captain Joseph Cervantes said TCC’s support of the Fort Worth Vaqueros will be life-changing for its players.
“I was fortunate to continue my education at the University of Central Arkansas and play on a soccer scholarship. A lot of my friends did not have the same fortune as it is a very small percentage who earn soccer scholarships,” Cervantes said. “Now TCC has bridged the gap allowing both opportunities to be possible.”
TCC also hopes it will benefit from exposure to a key segment of the Fort Worth Vaqueros’ fan base — young Latinos. Data shows it’s one of the fastest growing segments in Tarrant County, and the college wants to stay top-of-mind with these fans.
The Vaqueros open the season April 30 against Houston at Texas Wesleyan University’s Martin Field.
About Tarrant County College
Tarrant County College is a public two-year college with campuses in Fort Worth and surrounding communities. TCC is the 12th-largest higher education institution in the United States based on annual enrollment, with more than 100,000 students in academic, career training and noncredit Community & lndustry Education programs. The College provides affordable, quality education in a welcoming and diverse atmosphere. TCC offers both on-campus and online learning, with a strong support system to help students from all backgrounds meet their academic and professional goals. Visit www.tccd.edu for more information.
About Fort Worth Vaqueros
The Vaqueros were founded in 2014 and reign as Fort Worth’s only active minor league sports team. The club competes in the NPSL’s South Central Conference, the fourth division of the American professional soccer pyramid, with 11 teams from six states. Fully committed to growing the game of soccer in Fort Worth, the Vaqueros sponsor free community soccer clinics around Cowtown. Additionally, the Vaqueros are committed to reading and education through the Kicking & Reading program, where players read to Fort Worth area students. Fort Worth Vaqueros are committed to growing the sport of soccer in Fort Worth and developing local players (one of our players has been drafted by Major League Soccer.) A club of the community, the Vaqueros name, logo and jersey style for all three seasons were chosen by supporter voting. The 2016 Vaqueros Season kicks off on Saturday, April 30th vs. Houston at Martin Field. For more information, visit www.fortworthvaqueros.com.
Written by Reginald Lewis of Tarrant County College