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Arizona Cardinals’ Corey Peters Speaks with SMCC Women’s Soccer

Arizona Cardinals’ Corey Peters Speaks with SMCC Women’s Soccer

Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Corey Peters spoke with members of the South Mountain Community college women's soccer team about adversity and overcoming obstacles life puts in your way. For new Cougar head coach Nicole Acosta, the experience was an excellent way for her team to learn from a professional athlete what it takes to reach that level.

"As the captain of a professional athletic team, we had a great discussion about leadership," said Acosta. "He went through the different obstacles he has faced in his career and how he persevered through those obstacles. Although he plays a different sport, I think it is important for the student-athletes to learn new and different perspectives."

A 6-3 tackle who played collegiately at Kentucky, Peters had a successful five-year stint with the Atlanta Falcons after the team selected him in the third round of the 2010 NFL draft.

In his fourth season, he established a new career-best with 40 total tackles and five sacks. He followed that up with a 24-tackle, two-sack season in 2014 and signed a three-year deal with the Cardinals after entering free agency.

However, Peters tore his Achilles tendon during training camp and had to miss his first season with his new club. Since returning from that injury, Peters finished with a career-high 43 tackles in the 2018 season and 2.5 sacks in both 2018 and 2019.

"One thing Corey spoke about was to lean on and use your teammates for support," Acosta added. "They are going through the same things, and it is helpful to get advice from them. He harped on the belief that nobody is special and to not take opportunities for granted."

"It was inspiring because he mentioned he went through injuries and setbacks, but nothing stopped him," said Mayra Valenzuela, a freshman forward who scored a team-high three goals in 2019. "He spoke a lot about being involved with teammates and having a good mindset. Most of his talk was about what he endured mentally, and as student-athletes, overcoming those obstacles will make you stronger."

His teammates voted him captain for the first time in his career in 2018, and the team also selected him as its  Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award nominee. The Arizona chapter of the Professional Football Writers of America gave Peters the Steve Schoenfeld Media Good Guy award for his work and professionalism in dealing with the media.

"For me, the biggest takeaway was how important character building is for athletes to reach the top of their sport," said Acacia Glenn, a freshman who took a redshirt for the 2019 season. "As athletes, we are only able to operate at a high level because of who we are as people. Corey talked about how he hated working out and lifting weights, but his love for football showed him that if you want something, there are no excuses."

Acosta and the Cougars hope to turn things around, starting in 2020. Last season, SMCC finished 1-14 overall but did record a 3-2 double-overtime victory against Gateway Community College in the season finale.

After accepting the position in late April, Acosta hit the ground running in terms of recruiting. The current environment does not allow face-to-face meetings, so video chats like the one the team had with Peters are one of the main ways Acosta has to get to know her side.

"I think it has its benefits and drawbacks, but I have been able to meet with the student-athletes more often in this environment," Acosta said. "I think they are more themselves and less timid when we speak by phone or video chat, so that has been beneficial as a new head coach."

Whenever the Cougars return to the pitch, they'll have some new skills to apply in training thanks to Peters' lessons.