New coach was pro for 14 years

Published 9:58 pm Thursday, August 11, 2011

Enrique Camarena-Corzo is taking over as head coach of the Austin Packers girls' soccer team this year. He's also holding a picture of his time with a professional team out of Oregon that played the U.S. team of the day. Camarena-Corza has 14 years of professional soccer under his belt. - Eric Johnson/

When new Austin head girls soccer coach Enrique Camarena-Corzo speaks to his team, he speaks from experience — and he has plenty of it.

Before coming to Austin three years ago, Camarena-Corzo spent 14 years playing professional soccer and he spent another stint coaching high school and club soccer in Oregon.

A native of Guadalajara, Mexico, Camarena-Corzo’s soccer career began when he started playing for Chivas in Mexico. He went on to play three years of high school soccer in Oregon as a foreign exchange student before he signed his first pro contract with a team in Mexico called Tecos.

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But Camarena-Corzo was still looking to play even more elite competition.

“I was excited, but my biggest dream was to play in Europe,” he said. “I had a friend and I called him and he got me a tryout in Germany. I was pretty lucky and they picked me.”

Camarena-Corzo spent four months with Werder Dernen of Germany before he hurt his ankle and then a hernia surgery almost put an end to his playing career as he sat out for two years.

New Austin girls' soccer coach Enrique Camarena-Corzo, right, is seen with former teammate Guameru Garcia, during his time on the Leon, Mexico major league team. - Photo provided

“I almost put my shoes away and I was almost done playing,” he said.

That’s when Camarena-Corzo received a call from a professional team in Oregon, where he ended up being a captain for three years. He had one of his career highlights with that team as he played against the USA Olympic soccer team.

After his run in Oregon, Camarena-Corzo signed with a professional team in France, where he played for three years.

“We had some big games in France and we played against some good pros from Russia,” he said. “It was completely different in Europe at that time. It was quicker than in Mexico, but right now everything has changed. In Mexico you had to do a few more touches before a pass and in Europe it was one or two touches before you pass. Every country that I played in was completely different and I always had to learn.”

Camarena-Corzo finished his pro career in Mexico before coming to Oregon, where he met his wife, to coach. It was when he and his wife started their family that they moved back to Austin to be close to her family.

Last year he took the assistant coaching job for the Austin girls soccer team when he saw it was open.

“I saw the position was open and I love this sport so much. I really wanted to help and share the experience I have with the girls,” Camarena-Corzo said.

This year the head coaching job opened up for Camarena-Corzo and the Packers’ players have welcomed him with open arms. Nicole Lipari, a junior captain on the team, said the team looks forward to playing for its new coach.

“I’m excited to play for him. He loves the game and he feels like a part of our team,” she said. “He wants us to improve as a whole and that’ll be good.”

Camarena-Corzo said he’s not afraid to put younger players on the field and he also said he doesn’t want anyone counting themselves out. When he coached club soccer in Salem, Oregon, he had a player make it to the U20 Mexican National Team and she played in the World Cup.

“She made her dream and I want to let my players know that any dream you have, you should follow and you can make it,” he said. “If you believe in yourself; I believe in you. Never give up.”

The Packers have won just six games in the last three years and Camarena-Corzo thinks it’s time for that to change. The team showed signs of promise last season, but the roster still includes a lot of younger players.

“We’re going to try to go forward right away. We want to have really good control with passing the ball around and we don’t want to let the other team have the ball at all,” he said. “The girls have worked really hard this offseason to have a good season. I know this year we’re going to have a really good team.”

Camarena-Corzo works as a success coach at Sumner Elementary and the school is coming to watch the Packers play their first game of the season Aug. 25 at Art Hass Stadium at 11 a.m.

Some of the students will sing the national anthem and others will get to line up with players before the contest.

“I really appreciate that my principal Mrs. (Sheila) Berger and all the teachers made it happen,” he said. “I think it will be really important for the girls and for the community.”