Spanish Teacher, Niceville High School
Jose Fernandez holds an all-time scoring record in UWF soccer and earned his place in the UWF Athletics Hall of Fame. After playing soccer professionally in Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma, Fernandez discovered his niche in teaching and stays involved in soccer through coaching today.
UWF was a home to me. My professors, coaches and academic advisors were instrumental in helping me get through it all, and I left with a lot of great memories that will last, especially one in particular—I met my wife Kelly there.
Why did you pursue a career in teaching after soccer?
I started coaching a high-school boys team in 1997, and I felt very comfortable teaching the game. It was then I realized that education was my calling. I was offered a teaching position and made a career change from architectural design to full-time teaching. I’ve taught architectural drafting and mechanical drafting. I also taught English as a second language and was the program advisor. I currently teach Spanish.
How do you stay involved in soccer today?
I call it ‘futbol.’ Since my UWF career, I’ve been fully immersed, whether playing, coaching or watching. I have shared my passion through the years coaching many recreational, competitive and high school teams in Texas, Oklahoma and Florida, winning numerous state and regional championships as a player and coach. Currently, I’m the director of coaching at Real Athletic Development Futbol Club in Destin, Florida.
Any words of advice for fellow student-athletes at UWF balancing sports with academics?
When you combine all daily practices, all the travel to away games, late home games, soccer ‘parties’ and the rigor and demands of your academic field, it all really sounds impossible and looks like a recipe for failure but it isn’t. Set your priorities, stay focused and commit to reaching your goals. Surviving as a student-athlete is the best preparation for real life.