It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 12 years since Jerry Smith was tabbed to be the athletic director at AWC-until you realize what an incredibly successful 12-year run Matador Athletics has enjoyed under his direction. Smith is easily the most tenured member of the AWC Athletic staff, having spent over 40 years in community college athletics as a coach and administrator. A native of Red Oak, Oklahoma, Smith stayed home to play basketball and earn his Associate's degree at Eastern Oklahoma State College before earning both his Bachelor of Science degree and Master's in Education degree from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Smith then returned to Talihina to begin his coaching career in the high school ranks for two years. Smith then headed to Durant High School in Durant, Oklahoma, for four seasons as the head boys' varsity basketball coach before becoming the head baseball coach and assistant basketball coach at Murray State College in Tishomingo, Oklahoma for one season. From there, Smith spent the next three decades of his life in several different capacities at EOSC. He was the Mountaineers' men's head basketball coach for nine seasons over two different coaching stints. During that time, Smith's teams won two conference championships and were Region II Tournament runners-up three times. Smith was not only head basketball coach but also longtime athletic director, Alumni Association Director, Vice President of Student Services and the Director of Development during his three-decade tenure at EOSC. Smith was also one of the top officials in the area during that time, officiating high school and college football games, and was even the coordinator of officials for the Oklahoma Secondary School Activity Association in the Southeast part of Oklahoma. Jerry is also well-respected among NJCAA officials, having served as the NJCAA Division II National Baseball Committee Chairman. Since arriving at AWC, Smith has helped increase the awareness of the Matador Athletic Association several times over throughout the Yuma community. Smith served two years as the president of the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference and Western States Football League and is always helping promote the conference and Arizona Western College. He also is in his 7th year as the Region I's Women's Director (after 4 years as an assistant) and is currently serving on the Executive Committee of the NJCAA.
Sam can't believe he is already in his third year at Arizona Western College. He hit the ground running in year one and hasn't looked back. He came to Yuma after spending the summer of 2014 working for the St. Paul Saints, an independent baseball team. He did a little bit of everything for the team including broadcasting games, writing articles for the team programs, and putting together the game notes and stats. The St. Paul Saints are also a big part of the surrounding community, and Sam volunteered at community events sponsored by the team. Before he worked for the Saints, Sam interned with FoxSports as a multimedia journalist in Durham, NC covering Duke athletics for Scout.com. His whole career in sports started when he was accepted into a master’s program at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. He finished the program in 2013 about a month before he married his wife Alaina. The two have moved to Yuma and are excited to avoid northern winters.
As the rosters of student-athletes, coaches and staff rotate in the Matador Athletics family annually, one constant has remained over the past 17 years: the steady, consistent (and many times, behind-the-scenes) performance of Cindy Evans. But her tenure in athletics is only half the story for Evans, since she has spent more than 30 years at Arizona Western College. You could find Evans at the AWC Bookstore in the old AWC Student Union when she first began as a campus employee in 1981. Evans moved to the school’s Registration Office after that before taking over as Athletic Secretary in 1997. During her tenure in the athletic office, Evans has seen 10 different Matador Athletic teams reach the NJCAA Tournament; has made trips with the AWC Football team to Nassau, New York for the Nassau Bowl in '97, and to Biloxi, Mississippi for the Mississippi Bowl in 2009; and saw her first national championship football game at the 2011 El Toro Bowl. Evans has worked for four different athletic directors while at AWC, and continues to be respected for keeping the Matador Athletic offices running smoothly. Evans is married to Brent, who retired after a long, successful career as middle school teacher at Castle Dome Middle School, and dotes on her two daughters, Megan and Jennifer, and her five granddaughters.
Senecca Stromberg is into her second year as a Matador. An Arizona native, she discovered athletic training during her freshman year of high school and by her senior year, she knew she wanted to make it her career. After graduating from Cibola High School, Senecca attended Northern Arizona University, where she gained invaluable experience working with Coconino High School and NAU’s volleyball, track, and football teams. She was awarded the Michael E. Nesbitt AZ College Athletic Trainer of the Year Scholarship and graduated top of her class with her Bachelors of Science in Athletic Training. She returned to Yuma as the Head Athletic Trainer at Cibola. During her two years at Cibola she implemented a CTE Sports Medicine Program and created an internship program for students interested in athletic training. Senecca also helped rewrite Yuma Union High School District’s athletic training standard of care and served as the concussion representative for Southwestern Arizona. She is excited about her transition to the collegiate level and hopes to be a valuable asset to the Matador Athletics Program. Senecca met her husband Jared at a church activity a few years ago. They have one-year old son, Jude, and a German Shepherd dog, Atlas.
Steven is excited to join the Matador family! He joins AWC after working as the Head Athletic Trainer at Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix. Born and raised in Arizona, Steven discovered athletic training during high school at Desert Vista after being injured in lacrosse, and quickly fell in love with the career. This led him to attend Northern Arizona University, where he gained experience working with Northern Arizona’s football team. During his senior year, Steven was lucky enough to get a yearlong internship with Arizona State University, working with their football and wrestling teams. After graduating from NAU in 2012, Steven was hired by Fresno State University as the Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer for football. Fresno State football had great success during Steven’s tenure there; winning the Mountain West Conference in 2012 and 2013 and attending bowl games both years (Hawaii Bowl 2012 and Vegas Bowl 2013). His Fresno State career came to an end after graduating in 2014 with a Master’s degree in Sport Psychology, moving back home to Arizona to continue his professional career. In his spare time, Steven enjoys hiking and being outdoors, working out, and golfing.