Cooper Renteria: A veteran returns for Wildcat soccer


Chico State Athletics

Renteria controlling the ball in 2020 for the Wildcats.

Cooper Renteria is poised and eager to tackle his new leadership role for the men’s soccer team this season. 

Renteria, a midfielder, is a fifth-year returner for the Wildcats after redshirting his freshman season in 2016 and appearing in 17 matches in 2019. He scored one goal last season and also added two goals and an assist in 2018 for the Wildcats. He is now back for his final season after deciding to return to Chico State for graduate school. 

“I thought it was a smart decision to go back to school with the pandemic going on,” Renteria said. “I also really wanted to play my final season out. I wanted to have one final chance to play competitively.” 

Renteria streaking past a defender last season for the Wildcats.

The soccer team has returned to practicing and training twice a week. They have a full schedule planned for the fall 2021 semester. 

“I’m excited, but a little nervous, too, considering we haven’t trained as a team in over a year,” Renteria said. 

Head Coach Felipe Restrepo is counting on his older players to guide the younger guys through these different times. Renteria’s experience and voice will be needed more than ever.

“He’s been reliable,” Restrepo said. “He’s been a great guy for the locker room, and now it’s his turn to be a leader for the locker room as the older statesman.” 

Renteria remembers his first year in the soccer program and knows the importance of getting off to a good start. He’s preached being ready. He recalled coming into the program as a 17-year-old freshman and all the good advice he received from upperclassmen. Even though he red-shirted that season, he looks back at that year as one of the most important and helpful years with the team.

“The leadership role is definitely one I’m excited for,” Renteria said. “To be able to groom the younger guys for the future is something I look forward to.” 

Coach Restrepo expressed his confidence in Renteria to be able to fill that leadership role for the Wildcats this season. He explained that his experience playing in conference tournaments and also making the NCAA Tournament with the Wildcats in 2018 is something that he values a lot.

Chico State Wildcats’ #11 Cooper Renteria (right) vies against Concordia (Oregon) Cavaliers during the first half of their men’s soccer game on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019 in Chico, California

“We’re lucky to have someone like Cooper who’s been in the conference tournament, who’s had a lot of success in his career and has been a big piece for us,” Restrepo said. 

His teammates have expressed their gratitude for having Cooper on the team and look at him as a leader and someone they can always count on no matter what. 

“Cooper is a tough teammate and a tougher player,” said teammate forward Andrew Hazzard. “He expects the best from himself and those around him. After knowing Cooper for the past three years, I can confidently say he’s an amazing role model and a dependable friend.” 

This past year has been anything but easy and staying positive without the sport that has brought you so much happiness and great friendships, Renteria said, but he is optimistic for his final year playing for the Wildcats and starting grad school as well. 

“I can’t say for the last year it’s been easy to motivate myself, but knowing there’s a light at the end of the tunnel knowing there’s going to be something to play for now is so exciting,” Renteria said. 

Jacob Milligan can be reached at [email protected] or @champ_milly8 on Twitter.