ANNA – History was made on Thursday at Anna High School as senior Gavin Reno became the first Coyote soccer player to sign to play the sport at the college level. He will continue his student-athlete career at Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa, Oklahoma.
Plenty of friends, family and coaches joined in the celebration on the cafeteria stage as Reno made it official during a signing event.
A First-Team All-District soccer forward, Reno also played basketball, ran track and was a football punter and placekicker at AHS.
“From the first day I started playing soccer [in sixth grade], I knew I wanted to play college soccer,” Reno said. “I loved it from the day I started it. I like basketball a lot but once I started playing soccer with Coach [Matt] Ellis, it’s been the best time of my life. … He’s been a big part of my soccer career. He’s helped me through everything and taught me how to be a better player.”
Reno said he just wanted something small and close to home.
“And it feels like home when I’m there,” Reno said of his college choice.
The NOC Mavericks compete in NJCAA Region II. Reno plans to study kinesiology and become a personal trainer.
Of course, winning Coyote soccer’s first-ever district title this year - as well as earning bi-district and area championships during his tenure - are among Reno’s top Anna sports memories.
What would Reno tell a young kid who aspires to play college ball?
“Show up to practice every day on time and train your hardest every day,” he said
Ellis had some words for Reno.
“He added another dimension and dynamic to our team,” Ellis said. “His pace, his speed to put pressure on the defenders, completely changed the way we were able to play this year. His impact on our team and our success was huge. Overall, he’s a committed player. He’s there all the time, working to get better.”
Reno scored 15 goals this past season, including two three-goal outings.
“That’s the most goals we’ve had anybody score [in a season] since I’ve been here,” said Ellis, who just completed his fifth year at Anna.
Coyote football fans will recall Reno’s rain-soaked, game-winning field goal versus Van Alstyne last year.
Jason Heath, Anna athletic director and head football coach, noted that Reno played only one year on the gridiron.
“I wish he’d have come out sooner,” Heath said, “because … he’s got some really great speed. He’s very quick. We saw that in track this year as well. I wish we could’ve gotten him out there playing receiver some, finding ways we could get him the ball. He’s a great athlete - not just a soccer player - but a well-rounded athlete that’s very talented. … And he’s a good kid. He goes about his business and competes. I look forward to seeing what he’s going to do up there at Northern Oklahoma.”
Soccer was definitely his favorite Reno’s mom Sara said.
“He has a joy when he’s on the field,” she continued. “You can just see him light up. … I’m beyond proud that he gets to go on to college and play soccer. And I love that it’s close to home and we’ll get to go watch him.”
It’s a huge opportunity for him to do something that he loves, dad Josh Reno said.
“As a parent, the only thing I can do for them is give them the opportunity,” he said. “What he does with it is up to him. But I’m extremely proud for him and I expect him to do great things. We’ll see where this journey goes.”