For the first time in nearly a decade, an Allan Hancock College men's soccer player has earned an opportunity to play for a Division I program. Forward Migel Gomez signed his scholarship papers to University of California, Santa Barbara during a special signing ceremony Thursday in front of family and friends inside Joe White Memorial Gymnasium.
"This leaves me speechless. It's a dream come true," said Gomez, who plans to major in communications at UCSB. "It means so much to me to earn this chance to play for a nationally-ranked Division I program at a premier university."
Gomez enjoyed a historic sophomore season for Hancock last fall. He became the first Bulldog to receive the Western State Conference Player of the Year award in 15 seasons and the first in at least 12 seasons to be named to the All-State Team. Gomez was also named to All-West Region First Team by the United Soccer Coaches Association (USCA).
The Cabrillo High School graduate ranked third in the state in assists and points, and tied for sixth in goals. His 19 assists set a Hancock single-season record and ranked third all-time in conference history. He tied Hancock teammate Ulysses Cardona for the conference lead in goals with 14.
"Migel is the complete package – his speed, touch on the soccer ball, leadership and work ethic are going to take him a long way," said Billy Vinnedge, the men's soccer head coach at Hancock. "I have no double Migel is going to do great things at the next level, both on and off the field."
Gomez finished his Hancock career with 24 goals and 30 assists.
The scholarship signing came just a few years after Gomez made a life-changing decision. Working full-time in the fields alongside his brother, the two had an important conversation that changed his course of history.
"We started talking about we could do so much more with our lives," recalled Gomez. "He decided to pursue a different career and I chose to enroll at Hancock to pursue a college education and return to soccer, the game I loved."
The decision paid off in a big way. Gomez will be able to follow the footsteps of his older brother, Mario, who recently graduated from UCSB after transferring from Hancock.
"Not only is UCSB a great university, but it is also where my brother went, which motivates me me to earn a bachelor's degree just like him," said Gomez.
UCSB competes in the Big West Conference. Guided by long-time Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg, the Gauchos have won four of the past six North Division titles. Since becoming head coach in 1999, Vom Steeg has led the Gauchos to the 2006 National Championship, 10 Big West Conference championships, two College Cup berths, and 14 postseason appearances.
UCSB hosts Westmont in an exhibition on Saturday, August 18, before opening the 2018 regular season at home Friday, August 24, against St. John's.