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Student Profiles

Alex Loera playing soccer
Alex Loera

Alex Loera, Student-Athlete to Pro Soccer Player

Learning Life Lessons On and Off the Field.

It was the kind of moment all Broncos needed after the challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. That thrilling 17th day of May 2021 when Santa Clara won the NCAA College Cup championship. It had been twenty years since we claimed this title—and once again, Santa Clara is on top of the women’s soccer world.

For Alex Loera ’21, MVP defensive player of the tournament, it was a long-time dream come true. Two weeks after the win, she would be named the Honda Sport Award winner for soccer—a high honor for the top women athletes in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports and signifies “the best of the best in collegiate athletics.” Recruited to a professional league for 2022, Loera is at the top of her game. And yet this humble, now graduate student-athlete is filled with the deepest appreciation for her time at SCU.

As a scholarship recipient of the Bannan Endowment for the Bronco Bench for all four of her undergraduate years, Loera says, “I am especially grateful for the scholarship because without it, I would not have been able to come to Santa Clara.” This scholarship was created by the Bannan family to assist student-athletes of academic and athletic excellence who best exemplify the tradition of SCU—Loera is a perfect representative. “That’s so important to me because it is now such a big part of my life.” She has grown into the fabric of the community and feels blessed for the friendships and relationships she has made along the way. “The education I received at SCU and getting the recognition I did on the team is invaluable to me. I am so thankful to our generous donors.”

One of the people she credits a great majority of her success to is Head Coach Jerry Smith, who is now in his 35th season at SCU. “At first, we butted heads—he wanted me to change positions to center back and told me he felt it would be a better fit. And I basically said no way,” she recalls. “Of course, I’ve been here five years now and I’m still at center back.” She pauses to ponder how he had such foresight and adds, “He knows what he’s doing, but he’s not just focused on us as players. He is dedicated to the life lessons you can learn through soccer like discipline, commitment, and caring for others—then carrying those into your life after soccer. Along with my studies here, he’s trying to instill that we grow as people too.”

She also attributes her success to being able to immerse herself in athletics and her studies. The resources provided by her scholarship gave her the freedom to play soccer stress-free, which then correlated to her incredible success on the field. Loera is currently pursuing her MBA and is able to play for the Broncos for one more season. To prepare for the coming year, she is taking advantage of the newly opened Stephen C. and Patricia A. Schott Athletic Excellence Center (AEC). “I’m literally there every day. The weight room and courts are just beautiful. There’s just so much about this building that is captivating, and people are going to remember it when they come on their visit here. It’s going to bring a lot of positive attention to our athletic program.”

The notoriety of our stellar women’s soccer team has been a source of great pride for Santa Clara for two decades, and with a spotlight back on the Broncos, the team is showing what the future for women’s athletics can look like. Female athletes have the power to create awareness among their audiences, act as role models in their communities, and encourage others to be active participants in the pursuit of equitable treatment of all athletes.

While Loera enjoys her last year as a Bronco before she heads to play professionally for Kansas City NWSL, she is excited for the future of her sport. She also looks back on her Santa Clara experience that helped guide her. “I feel like everyone in the Santa Clara community has the same heart. That’s what makes us so special in that we come together and really make it a home. I’m building my legacy, but everyone here is a part of it.”

She also understands the importance of paying it forward. “I think it’s very important that if we are able to give back, we do. I’ve been in the shoes of a 15-year-old student-athlete who had a dream to come to California to this amazing school, and to give it their best effort, without having to worry about being able to afford it, but being forever grateful for it.”