ROY HESS | Staff Writer
Omar Pedroza is one of the few coaches who was around when University Interscholastic League girls soccer first came to the Rio Grande Valley in the late 1990s.
He has guided the Lady Hawks for 23 seasons and taken them to the playoffs every year.
The 2019 season was one of the best for the South girls as they advanced five rounds in the Class 6A playoffs and made it to the Region IV-6A Tournament final before suffering a 3-0 loss to Austin Lake Travis and finishing the year 23-4. It was the first appearance for the South girls in the regional final since 2003. The Lady Hawks’ season ended one win short of the UIL state tournament in Georgetown in April.
For his efforts in directing the Lady Hawks to such a standout season, Pedroza is the Valley Morning Star’s 2019 All-Star Girls Soccer Coach of the Year.
Also, Sarah Grace Garza, a freshman midfielder on the wing/forward for South, is the All-Star Newcomer of the Year.
“I tell people who ask me about winning an award (such as coach of the year) that it’s a reflection of the kind of players I have,” Pedroza said. “I have great players who are smart students. When you have those kind of players, my job is easy. I love it, and I would say it’s just a reflection of the players.”
Mellory Grannum, a senior standout who has played three seasons for the Lady Hawks, said the players appreciate having Pedroza as their coach.
“Coach Pedroza is honestly one of the nicest coaches I’ve ever played for,” Grannum said. “As a coach, I feel he understands the game, and he understands each and every one of his players as a person. He knows exactly where to put us on the field so we can do well in a game.”
Meanwhile, Garza said it was a great experience to be part of the team that made it all the way to the regional final.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t have made such an impact on this team without the rest of my teammates,” said Garza, who was named one of the two newcomers this year in District 32-6A as well. “My teammates have been welcoming to me since the beginning of the season.
“This team is my second family, and I’m completely honored to be part of it,” she added. “I’m going to miss all these seniors who are graduating. They helped me so much this season. Mostly as a left wing, I tried to make good passes, and I tried to do what I could to make sure the ball would get to the forwards so we could have a chance to score.
“It was my first season (on the varsity) and we made it very far (in the playoffs), so I’m glad I was a part of that. I hope that throughout the coming years I can improve as a player and as a teammate, and make more history.”