Texas native Kevin Cross has built the UTEP soccer program into a perennial conference contender and a driving force in the NCAA's Central Region in his 12 years as head coach.
Cross has been involved with Miner soccer since 1997-the program's second year of existence-, serving as a top assistant before replacing Veronica O'Brien in 2001. UTEP has been the epitome of success during his tenure, with a school-record 11 straight seasons with at least 10 wins. The Miners have compiled 146 victories since 2002, to rate tied for 23rd nationally in that time frame.
A high-octane offense has been a staple throughout the successful period. UTEP has produced 544 goals in the sequence, which is the 13th-highest total nationally.
Cross' efforts have also allowed the Miners to have experienced a seamless transition in joining Conference USA. UTEP rates third out of 16 teams in the league with 106 victories since becoming a member in 2005.
UTEP's achievements have not gone unnoticed. Cross' charges have earned a spot in the NCAA's Central Region rankings for nine straight seasons. UTEP has also boasted an impressive RPI over the years, and it was the second-highest rated program in the state of Texas in 2009.
Team success has translated into individual accolades. The Miners have been represented on the all-conference team 29 times, including back-to-back years with three honorees. Regarding all-region recognition, 15 of the 16 honorees have been during his tenure. The Miners have reaped 53 athletic weekly honors (36 leauge & 17 national) under his leadership.
His players have filled up the UTEP record books, with the career leaders for assists (Kelly Parker), game-winning assists (Kia Sams), game-winning goals (Jami Tullius), games played (Kristin Wernimon), games started (Ashleigh Decker), goals (Jami Tullius), minutes played (6924), multi-assist games (Parker), multi-goal games (Tameka Sumter), shots (Tullius) & shots on goal (Tullius) having been mentored by Cross.
He has impacted the game beyond the college level, with several players having achieved notoriety. Former Miner player & former assistant coach Kelly Parker has been a star in the Women's Professional Soccer league while also playing for the Canadian National Team.
Parker competed at the 2011 Women's World Cup & the 2012 Summer Olympics. Additionally, former Miner Anoop Josan competed with Team Canada at the U-20 FIFA Women's World Cup in 2008.
His enthusiasm and passion for UTEP has helped him build a loyal fan base, which has made University Field one of the toughest places to play at in the country. The Miners have forged a mark of 93-14-5 since 2002. The Orange and Blue's play has attracted El Pasoans to the venue in a big way. A C-USA best 45,821 fans have passed through the turnstiles at University Field since 2005, with UTEP pacing the league four times in that timeframe. Overall the Miners have registered seasonal averages of better than 400 in 10 years of Cross' career, including seven with a readout surpassing 500.
The Miners have also thrived in the classroom under Cross' direction, hauling in 173 academic accolades. Among the more notable accomplishments were Holly Cohen (2002), Heather Clark (2004), Tullius (2005) and Melissa Desilets being recognized as Academic All-Americans.
With an overall mark of 149-83-12 Cross is not only the winningest coach in program history, but he is also among the top coaches nationally. His winning percentage .635 places him among the top 40 nationally among active DI women's soccer coaches. Aiding that record was the historic 2005 season, in which the Miners rolled to a school-record and a then C-USA best-tying 20 wins and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament by toppling Texas.
It was a rollercoaster season for the UTEP soccer team in 2012. The Miners battled through the loss of five key players to injury and some tough breaks on the road to notch their 11th consecutive season with 10 or more victories.
UTEP, which finished the campaign at 10-10-0, achieved the feat just once prior to Cross' appointment as head coach.
It was a youth-laden group that featured only two seniors, Tess Hall and Brittany Kindzierski, but never let that lack of experience impact its effort on the pitch. The Miners peeled off three separate winning streaks of at least three games while also garnering placement in the NSCAA Central Region Poll for the ninth straight year.
UTEP battled through some injuries and close calls during the 2011 campaign, but it put things together when it mattered most down the stretch. The Miners earned runner-up honors at the 2011 Conference USA Championships. UTEP pushed No. 4/6 host & unbeaten Memphis to the brink before being edged out on a golden goal in the second overtime session. The Miners achieved a regional ranking for the eighth straight year.
A high-flying attack which allowed UTEP to lead the nation in scoring for most of the season set the tone for another successful season in 2010. The Miners (11-8-0) climbed to as high as 29th nationally in the TopDrawerSoccer.Com ratings, were regionally ranked for the seventh straight year and defeated a top-25 program in the form of Memphis, 2-1, on Sept. 26. In 2009 UTEP registered a mark of 13-6-1, which was helped by becoming the second team in school history (2006) to post two separate winning streaks of at least four contests.
Some matches stood out more than others. In the inaugural battle of I-10, UTEP downed NM State, 1-0, in front of a school-record 1,610 fans at University Field on Aug. 21. The Miners showed their prowess in league play by besting two-time defending C-USA champion Memphis, 3-2, on the road on Oct. 2. UTEP posted a convincing 2-0 triumph against long-time rival SMU on Sept. 27, and it was one of six teams to qualify for the reduced field at the C-USA Championships.
A school-record three players were named to the NSCAA All-Region Central Team. No other team in the region had more than two players on the list. League honors also poured in, with a quartet of Miners being recognized.
In 2008 UTEP showed tremendous character in overcoming an inordinate amount of injuries through the year to finish with a final mark of 13-7-1. Eighteen different players, the most since Cross' first year on the job in 2001, started at least one match. The Miners were particularly impressive down the stretch, fashion a record of 5-2-1 to close out the regular season in style.
Back-to-back wins against regionally-rated opposition (No. 13 Rice on Oct. 26 and No. 8 Colorado College on Oct. 31) were included in the stretch. Another notable triumph was the Miners downing Big 12 member Baylor, 1-0, in front of a then school-record 1,426 fans in the season opener on Aug. 22. UTEP went on to claim the next four matches, and topped the field in both the Miner Classic and Border Shootout as result.
The Miners took care of business early throughout the 2007 season, boasting a final record of 13-7-2. UTEP advanced to the semifinals of the C-USA tournament and climbed as high as 10th in the NCAA's Central Region rankings.
Brilliant soccer attracted a then program-best 588 fans on average to home matches. UTEP rewarded the home faithful by going 8-1-2 at University Field, outscoring the opposition by a final count of 25-11.
Taking full advantage of Cross' offensive system, Tullius become the first player in school history to secure the C-USA Offensive Player of the Year. The native of El Paso led the lead in goals and points, and to this day remains the school record holder in those categories.
UTEP went 15-6 in 2006, setting school records for goals allowed (20), goals against average (0.93) and shutouts (11). Six of those blankings were consecutive, which also established a school standard.
The Orange and Blue defeated No. 17 Rice, 1-0, in front of a then school-record 1,106 fans on Oct. 8. The match was carried live nationally on College Sports Television, which was the first of its kind from the Sun City. UTEP blanked No. 25 Colorado College on Oct. 22, delivering its program-best second victory against a ranked foe on the year.
Individuals continued to be noticed for their play, as five different players combined to reel in a program-best-tying six league player of the week accolades, including sweeping the award two straight weekends. Nationally, four different Miners were placed on national teams of the week a school-record eight times.
The aforementioned 2005 campaign was a season for the ages, which included the thrilling come-from-behind 3-2 overtime victory in Austin to punch a ticket into the second round of the Big Dance.
The Orange and Blue, who earned the highest national ranking (31st) of any C-USA member institution, continued to thrive in all facets of the game, ranking 10th nationally in scoring offense, while registering a then program-best tying eight shutouts.
In 2004, the Miners won 13 games - including a 3-2 triumph over 20th-ranked SMU - and finished second in the WAC at 5-2-1. UTEP also ranked 28th nationally in scoring and spent much of the campaign among the SoccerBuzz.com Central Region top 10. In 2003, Cross' squad racked up an 11-8 record and advanced to the semifinals of the WAC Tournament. A pair of players earned All-WAC accolades. The squad was also a recipient of the NSCAA/adidas Women's College Team Academic Award.
The following spring, April 2004, Cross' team faced the Mexican national team in an exhibition match in front of 5,400 fans at Dudley Field in El Paso.
In 2002, Cross led UTEP to a magical season. His Miners finished the year 16-3. For his coaching efforts Cross was named the WAC Coach of the Year and the Central Region Coach of the Year by SoccerBuzz.com. UTEP snared runner-up honors in the WAC and ranked in the top 10 in the Central Region by SoccerBuzz.com throughout the year. Cross' unit led the NCAA in goals per match (4.42 gpm) and total goals (84), while its .842 winning percentage was eighth best in the country.
UTEP's 16-3 record was the fourth-best turnaround in NCAA soccer history. Cross mentored three of the top individual scorers in the NCAA and the top-three single-season point scorers in program history. Cohen was fourth in points per match (2.83) and sixth in goals per match (1.22). Parker led the NCAA with 1.00 assists per match and was tied for 13th in points per match (2.16). Miranda Cuthbertson was seventh in points (2.53 ppm) and eighth in goals (1.05 gpm).
Cross' team set program single-campaign records for goals (84), assists (73), points (241), fewest goals allowed (21) and lowest goals against average (1.09).
In addition to his own postseason honors, Cross coached five All-WAC selections, including first teamers Parker and Cohen. He had four players selected to the WAC All-Tournament team, with Cohen being named the MVP. Two Miners also secured All-Central Region awards.
The successful season led to several university awards as well. Parker received the UTEP Female Athlete of the Year Award, Cohen was chosen as the Golden Miner Award winner, and the team was given the Community Service Award for the 2002-03 school year.
His era as head coach began in 2001, as he tutored one of the top offensive players in the WAC in Cohen while landing two on the All-WAC squad.
Cross, the second head coach in school history, was a critical part of the program as an assistant the previous four seasons before becoming the skipper. Cross helped UTEP to the WAC Mountain Division regular season title during the 1998 campaign by recruiting seven freshmen starters dubbed the "Magnificent Seven" by The El Paso Times. As the Miners' top assistant, Cross was in charge of handling nearly every aspect of the program. He was an integral part of the recruiting process, both nationally and internationally. He helped mold five first team All-WAC picks, five second team All-WAC selections, one conference player of the year and a freshman All-American.
Cross holds the National Soccer Coaches Association of America National Diploma, a United States Soccer Federation "B" license and was an instructor for the South Texas Youth Soccer Association "G" license.
Following his playing career, Cross worked as a member of the Texas A&M men's club staff. While at Texas A&M, he was head coach of the university's club team from 1996-97, leading the unit to the NERSA nationals. He completed his master's degree in business administration in 1997 from Texas A&M.
Additionally, Cross was an assistant girls' soccer coach at Bryan High School in 1997. He was a staff member for the Bobby Moffat Techniques Soccer Camp and Austin College Soccer Camp.
Cross starred as a center fullback for Austin College from 1992 to 1994, playing an important role in the team's success. He helped the squad to second-place NAIA District VIII finishes in three consecutive seasons. A three-year letterwinner for the Kangaroos, Cross was a two-time NAIA Academic All-American and received the Charles "Bo" Miller Award as the school's top student-athlete of the year in 1995. In 1995, he graduated summa cum laude with degrees in business and economics.
Cross began his collegiate career by helping Richland Junior College to an 11th-place finish in the NJCAA during the 1991 season.
A native of Richardson, Texas, Cross was a standout at Berkner High School.
Cross, 40, is married to Carrie Cross, the former girls' head soccer coach at Franklin High School in El Paso. Cross and his wife had their first son, Chase, on July 1, 2004. Their daughter, Chelsea, was born on April 19, 2006.