Diego Bocanegra was announced the school's fifth Women's Soccer head coach on Dec. 5, 2016. An Upland, Calif., native, Bocanegra (pronounced boh-kuh-NEG-ruh) comes to Houston from Notre Dame, where he spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach for the 2016 ACC regular-season champions and helped lead the Fighting Irish to a No. 9 national ranking heading into the NCAA Tournament.
"We had a high level of interest for our position from across the nation, and throughout the process, Diego continually stood out above a strong field of candidates," said Yurachek. "He has been an instrumental factor of a nationally prominent program in Notre Dame, and we are excited to welcome Diego, Kellie, Isabella and Luca to the Houston family."
"I'm extremely humbled, honored and excited to be taking this position. Under the direction of Renu Khator and Hunter Yurachek, there is a sense of excitement and enthusiasm about the University of Houston that I felt when I visited, and that was the final selling point for me," said Bocanegra. "The City of Houston is a soccer hotbed and The American is a great soccer conference. I'm excited to have the opportunity to develop a championship program."
During his time at South Bend, Bocanegra helped lead the program to the 2016 ACC regular-season title as the Fighting Irish finished their conference season with a record of 7-1-2, part of an overall record of 13-3-5. Notre Dame advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of the three seasons with Bocanegra on staff, compiling a 3-3 record in the Tournament while running a record of 41-14-8 in his three seasons, including a mark of 20-7-3 in the ACC.
With Bocanegra on the Notre Dame staff, 15 players earned All-ACC selections and two were selected in the NWSL College Draft. Three players from the 2016 Notre Dame program represented their respective teams in the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Sabrina Flores and Natalie Jacobs on the United States roster and Monica Flores on the Mexico roster.
Bocanegra joined the Notre Dame coaching staff in 2014, bringing with him 16 seasons of previous coaching experience. Prior to joining the Notre Dame program, he spent five seasons (2009-13) as assistant and associate head coach/recruiting coordinator at Cal State Fullerton. In addition to player development, Bocanegra also focused on recruiting, game scouting and assisting with the program's successful summer camps.
While at Fullerton, Bocanegra helped the Titans to the 2012 Big West Conference regular-season title and the 2013 Big West Tournament championship, the latter bringing with it a spot in the NCAA Championship.
During his tenure at Fullerton, Bocanegra helped develop four Titans, who earned five NSCAA All-Region citations, as well as 16 players combining for 21 all-conference awards, led by 2013 Big West Midfielder of the Year Erica Mazeau. For his efforts, Bocanegra was named the 2012 NSCAA Far West Region Assistant Coach of the Year.
Prior to his time at Fullerton, Bocanegra spent two seasons as head coach at Cal State San Bernardino, leading the NCAA Division II program to 18 wins (including a 10-5-5 record and nearly an NCAA Championship berth in 2008) after the Coyotes had recorded 14 combined wins in the three seasons before his arrival. He coached two NSCAA All-Region selections and seven all-conference picks during his time with the Coyotes.
Bocanegra ascended to the top post at San Bernardino after two seasons as an assistant coach with the school's men's and women's programs. He began his coaching career as an assistant men's coach at Pomona-Pitzer (1998-2000) and UC Riverside (2001-04).
Bocanegra enjoyed a successful college playing career in the mid-1990s, beginning with two seasons at Grand Canyon University (1993-94; all-conference in '94) before one season and a redshirt year (1995-96) at UCLA, where he played for Sigi Schmid, the former coach of Major League Soccer's Seattle Sounders FC, and ultimately concluding at Fresno State in 1997.
Bocanegra comes from a family with a rich soccer tradition, led most notably by his younger brother, Carlos, who is a former U.S. Men's National Team captain and two-time FIFA World Cup participant (2006 and 2010).
Bocanegra received his bachelor's degree in liberal studies from Fresno State in 1998. He also has earned several coaching licenses, including United States Soccer Federation (USSF) National "A" License, the NSCAA Advanced National Diploma and the NSCAA National Diploma.
A native of Upland, California, Bocanegra and his wife, Kellie, have two children, daughter, Isabella and son, Luca.