Former Madera Coyote Velarde chosen to lead UC Merced XC
For The Madera Tribune
UC Merced Executive Director of Recreation & Athletics David Dunham has officially announced that Vicente Velarde will be the head men’s and women’s cross country coach for the Bobcats. Velarde has served as the program’s assistant coach for the past five years and as the interim head coach since Feb. 1.
“Velarde has been a consistent part of our cross country program for the past five years and has been an integral part of recruiting and building the success of our program,” Dunham said. “His commitment to UC Merced and to the Central Valley is evident in everything he does. We are excited to have Velarde step into the leadership role for our teams and we look forward to the continued growth and success of the cross country program under his leadership.”
Velarde, a lifelong Madera native, originally began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant coach at Madera South High School (2009-2013). He was named the assistant coach at Madera High School for both cross country and track & field in July of 2014. The following summer, Velarde joined the coaching staff of his Fresno City College teammate, the late Ryan Nunez, at UC Merced.
“I couldn’t say anything without mentioning my dear friend Ryan Nuñez,” Velarde said. “I am forever grateful for the opportunity he gave me as an assistant coach. The positive impact he had on me as a coach and as a person is something I will continue to share with my student athletes and colleagues at UC Merced. I’m excited and honored to be hosting the Ryan Nuñez Bobcat Invitational this September.”
As an assistant with the Bobcats, Velarde has been instrumental in coaching 16 individuals who have qualified for the NAIA National Championships and was part of Mike Barbee’s coaching staff when the 2018 men’s team became the first in program history to be nationally ranked. The Top 25 team was also the first in program history to earn an at-large berth to the NAIA National Championships. Velarde also worked closely with two-time All-American Anthony Tyler. Other notables include coaching eleven All- California Pacific Conference First Team honorees, six first place finishes (three men, three women), five individual first place finishes (three men, two women), and his teams have never finished lower than third at the Cal Pac Championships.
“I am thankful I had the opportunity to work under Mike Barbee,” Velarde said. “I was given so many opportunities to grow as a coach and his guidance has put me on a path that I know will produce the best results UC Merced has seen to date. The returning Bobcats and the strong group of incoming Bobcats are ready for the upcoming season. I can’t wait to get these teams to the line and represent the Central Valley in the best way possible.”
Additionally at Madera South, Velarde helped guide the Stallions to a second place finish at the 2013 Div. I CIF State Championships and an automatic bid to the Nike Cross Nationals.
Velarde has been a familiar face during the recruiting process since coming to the program in 2015 and has consistently had success with Merced and Madera products. Karina Martinez, a Madera South alum, set and still holds the Bobcats 5K record with a time of 18:42. The record was set the same year Velarde’s role expanded, a role that saw him take on additional duties with the women’s team specifically. Arguably, the Bobcats’ top two returning runners are from Merced and Madera. Maria Aguilar and Adrian Alvarez-Gil are runners from Madera South on the Bobcats’ roster.
A graduate of Fresno State with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, Velarde started his collegiate years at Fresno City College where he served as the team captain and placed sixth overall in his first California Community College State Meet (2007). Other accolades while at FCC include Dean’s List honors and the Bill Camp Memorial Award.
Velarde is married to former Fresno State runner Carina Velarde. The two have a daughter, Penelope, and currently reside in Madera.
“David Dunham, Senior Associate Director Marie Supanich and the entire athletics department have been extremely supportive of my personal goals,” Velarde said. “I look forward to following the mission of our department in offering our student athletes the best experience with UC Merced.”