By Morgan Adcock and Brandon Casteel
Photos by Brandon Casteel
Soccer is more than just game to Chris and Pepe Fernandez, it’s a way to bond as a family.
“When I looked down to it, everywhere I was looking at, I was just relating it back to Maryville and how much I loved it here,” said Chris Fernandez, 22, as he looked out the windows of the Cooper Athletic Center on the campus of Maryville College.
Chris, a rising senior of the Maryville College Scots Men’s Soccer team, plays under the guidance of his father, Pepe Fernandez, 56, head coach of both the men’s and women’s soccer teams at the college. Pepe has coached at the college for nearly 30 years and earned over 700 wins between the two teams but getting to coach his son is his favorite memory of his coaching career.
“We’ve had some good moments… I think the first time seeing him on the field was a very, very special moment for me,” said Pepe.
One would think that Maryville College would be the obvious choice for Chris to continue his academic and athletic career after high school at Maryville High. When looking into where he would go, Chris said his dad did not push him to attend college in his hometown and that he was supportive in finding other schools for him to attend. After receiving multiple offers to play soccer at other colleges, Pepe told Chris that it was his decision to make.
Since choosing Maryville College, Chris has completed three winning seasons with the team. He has played midfielder and assisted 10 times and also scored two goals. One of his goals was in the conference finals of his freshman season to tie the game that lead to a victory. “Immediately after the game the first person I saw running on the field was my dad and I jumped up and he grabbed me…and that was one of the best moments that I have had here,” said Chris.
The team has reached the USA South Conference finals every year Chris has attended the college. Moving forward into his senior year Chris hopes to compete in the national tournament.
Soccer isn’t all that Pepe is concerned with, the coach also cares about making sure that the team plays well and studies hard. His son has taken the task to heart, being named to the USA South academic all-conference team for the third year in a row. Chris is a mathematics major.
The father/coach said he wants a great senior season for his son. “I want to see him have a great, fun senior year where he plays with a lot of freedom and no pressure on himself. I think Chris will be successful.”
Morgan Adcock and Brandon Casteel are Middle Tennessee State University journalism students. They are in Blount County as part of a feature writing class called the Road Trip Class.