A Long Journey Home: From Spain to Mount Mercy to Soccer Leader

Enrique Cortina ’13, came to Mount Mercy University from his hometown of Valencia, Spain, to follow his passion for playing soccer while working toward earning an education he and his family could be proud of. The experiences and relationships Cortina formed during his four years at Mount Mercy revised his future from what he imagined to a life he hadn’t dreamed of.

“Life puts you in different places for a reason,” Cortina said. “When I started to look into colleges and sent my highlights video out, Amir Hadzic [Mount Mercy men’s head soccer coach] contacted me and was very helpful during the entire process. I felt I could trust him. He drew me to Mount Mercy.”

Cortina’s coach wasn’t the only person he found guidance and inspiration in. Many people along his journey at Mount Mercy influenced and molded him into the person he has become today.

Among a list that stretched from his internship with the athletic department to his time spent with friends, Cortina said his education in public relations was instrumental to his success. Faculty members Joe Sheller and Dr. David Klope, both associate professors of communications, provided Cortina with the skills and in-depth knowledge he relies on.

“They were excellent professors and I was lucky to have them because they were always very easy to talk to. We could spend hours talking about public relations and careers, and they’d give me a lot of tips and advice. It was great to have them.”

As much as Cortina valued his professors, he made many long-lasting friendships, including a friendship with Dia (Brown) Cortina ’12, that turned into a marriage. Cortina said meeting Dia ultimately led to changing his original plans of moving back to Spain after he obtained his degree.

“I met my wife and being with her now is one of the things that will always make Mount Mercy a good experience,” Cortina said. “At home we put both of our diplomas next to each other, and that way we will always have Mount Mercy. It’s a part of us.”

Because of the support he received from Mount Mercy’s tight-knit campus community, Cortina was prepared for what would be next in his journey: becoming general manager of Storm FC, a men’s semiprofessional soccer club in Florida—a program Cortina built from the ground up.

“The future of U.S. soccer is huge,” Cortina said. “Back in Spain, a friend who was working for a soccer club wanted to expand to the U.S. He shared his vision with me and told me I should look into it if I wanted to be the person in charge of the company here.”

photo of Enrique Cortina
Cortina says that his Mount Mercy education instrumental in his career success.

Cortina was then introduced to Jose Reygadas in Miami, who is now his boss. The two started a partnership and his adventure into the world of professional soccer in the U.S. began.

“I started this team from zero,” Cortina said. “I created a team. I put the team in the league. To be honest, it was a project that I started building with my roommate, because we were both soccer-passionate. It’s funny that my senior project was something similar. I got to put it into reality. I presented this project to my boss, he liked it and gave me the green light and I went for it.”

Cortina’s responsibilities didn’t stop when planning Storm FC was finished. Because of the skills learned at Mount Mercy, he supervises the public relations department and all of the team’s communications. He also helps build the roster for the team, takes care of contracts and player needs, and is the public face of the team within the league.

But soccer isn’t confined to his day job. During his senior year at Mount Mercy, Cortina was head coach for Marion High School’s varsity soccer team. It was then he added coaching to his list of passions.

“In my free time I coach a team of teen girls,” Cortina said. “When I don’t have to work on the club, I’m coaching soccer. My life is soccer, and I’m kind of lucky my wife likes soccer too.”

Without his time at Mount Mercy, Cortina admits his life would be very different from what it is now. His decision to attend the university ultimately shifted his plans. He is looking forward to what the future holds, and knows soccer will always be a part of it.

Written by Samantha Wilson ’16