Fernando Zuniga enters his sixth season with the Chowan women's soccer team and fourth as head coach.
During the 2020-21 season, Zuniga led the Hawks to one of their best seasons in program history sporting an 8-2-1 overall record and a 5-1-1 league record for second place in the league tables. Chowan was a perfect 6-0-0 at home and used a program best 7-0-1 stretch. Zuniga returned the Hawks to the Conference Carolinas semifinals while boasting a program best seven Conference Carolinas All-Conference selections. Carolina Lucci became only the second player in league history to be named Conference Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, and four-time First Team selection. Sabrina Henderson, Sydney Henderson, and Allison Traub also garnered First Team selections. Michelle Maksimovic picked up a Second Team honor, while Sierra Gonzalez and Sabine Felix earned Third Team honors. The team was also selected as the Chowan Most Outstanding Female(s) Award recipient.
In the 2019 season, Chowan finished with a 4-8-3 overall record and a 4-4-3 mark in the Conference Carolinas. Chowan battled with five regionally ranked opponents (Lincoln Memorial, Limestone, UNC Pembroke, Wingate, and Mount Olive). The Hawks wrapped up the regular season with a 4-1-1 record allowing three goals and four shutouts including a scoreless draw against unbeaten Mount Olive on the road. Carolina Lucci was named Conference Carolinas First Team and USCA All-Region. Asia Fort and Sierra Gonzalez were named Conference Carolinas Third Team.
During his first season as head coach, Chowan finished with a 9-7-1 overall record and a 7-3-1 mark in the Conference Carolinas. The Hawks would make their second straight trip to the Conference Carolinas semifinals, falling to #20 Limestone 1-0. Chowan would pick up their first-ever win against Belmont Abbey on the road, defeating the Crusaders 2-1 in double overtime. Carolina Lucci and Sabrina Henderson produced Conference Carolinas First Team All-Conference selections. Sydney Henderson and Asia Fort picked up Conference Carolinas Third Team honors. Carolina Lucci and Sabrina Henderson earned D2CCA Second Team All-Region honors. Lucci would also be named to the NCCSIA All-State team. Susan Balladares, Olivia Borer, Jaime Calcagno, Asia Fort, Rebekah Langley and Samantha Xiques would be named to the Conference Carolinas Academic All-Conference list.
Zuniga noted, “Chowan University is a place of strong values and an amazing feel of family and community. Those were some of the reasons I decided to attend Chowan as an undergraduate student, and now, as a coach I believe it is a great place to continue my coaching career. I’m excited about the opportunity to become part of a program with such a rich history and to work alongside a coach with a vast amount of experience. I’m really looking forward to working with an amazing group of student-athletes and helping them to become successful on and off the field”.
Zuniga competed for the Chowan men's soccer program for four seasons. He made 58 starts for the Chowan Blue and White, was named captain as a junior, and played an integral role in the team's school-record 12-8 season in 2014. The Hawks competed in the NCCAA South Region semi-final that same season. In the spring of his senior year, Zuniga served as a student assistant with the men's soccer program. He assisted with the planning of field training and strength and conditioning sessions. Additionally, he volunteered as part of the Hawks Soccer Academy.
Upon graduation, Zuniga gained coaching experience working with the Hawks Soccer Academy and serving as Head Varsity Boys and Girls Soccer Coach at Ridgecroft School. Zuniga managed all aspects of the varsity and junior varsity girls' and boys' soccer programs including training sessions, skill development, and teaching tactical and technical facets of the game.
He graduated from Chowan in 2015 with a degree in Business Administration and received his masters from Chowan in 2019. During his time at Chowan, Zuniga was an active member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and was named to the Sigma Beta Delta Honor Society, and the President’s List. He was also a Leadership Scholar. Zuniga resides in Murfreesboro.