Union University

Union University Athletic Department
1050 Union University Drive Jackson, TN 38305
Division 2 Tennessee Southeast
Private Small Competitive team


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Josh Alford

Josh Alford was named the new women's soccer head coach at Union in January of 2022. He is now in his second season as a head coach. His career record is 4-11-1 (.312).

In his first season of 2022, Alford started to rebuild the program posting four wins, all shutouts, and seven of the losses were all by one goal.

Alford came to Union after working as the assistant coach for four seasons at the University of Northern Iowa. He is the fourth head coach in program history and took over for assistant coach, Anna Hardin. Hardin was named the interim head coach just weeks before the 2021 season when then head coach Scott Sinclair accepted another coaching job.

While at Division I Northern Iowa, Alford played a key role in leading the Panthers to three Missouri Valley Conference tournament appearances in four years.

In 2016 and 2017, Alford worked as an assistant coach at Division II South Carolina Aiken. In the two seasons, he helped in rebuilding the program as the lead recruiter. Seven players earned Peach Pelt All-Academic honors.

Before the two positions as assistant coach at Northern Iowa and USC Aiken, Alford was the head coach at Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois. In his final six seasons at Parkland, he led the Cobras team to a 78-22-7 record and a top-15 national ranking. He led this team to back-to-back M-WAC Championships, boasting numerous NJCAA All-America and all-region honors from his squad. Alford was named the M-WAC Coach of the year in 2014 and 2015, while also taking home Region 24 Coach of the Year honors in 2011.

Student-athletes coached and trained by Alford have gone on to play at the D1, D2, D3, and NAIA levels. Some have also made the professional ranks.

Alford's playing career included stops at Olivet Nazarene and Parkland College. From 2003-05 while at Parkland, he was named all-conference and all-region, while also being named an All-American contender. His career at Olivet Nazarene from 2005-07 included all-tournament team honors. In 2010, Alford was named to the M-WAC All-Decade First Team.

Alford is a graduate of Eastern Illinois with a degree in general students. He and his wife, Ricki, have a daughter, Nico Ella and two sons, Hawke and Caspian.

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Mercedes Padilla

Mercedes Padilla was named the Union University women's soccer assistant coach in May of 2023. She will serve as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.

Padilla joins Union after spending one season as the assistant coach at Huntingdon College from June 2022 through June 2023. She also was the assistant girl's varsity coach at Trinity Presbyterian High School in the spring of 2023. Padilla coached five seasons of club-level soccer including four with the Barber Elite and one season with the Alabama FC South.

Padilla said, "I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to continue to grow and learn as a collegiate coach. Union felt like home as soon as I stepped on campus, and I am thankful that this was in the Lord's plan for me. Thank you to Coach Joshua Alford, Director of Athletics Mark Campbell, and President Oliver for trusting me to bring in my knowledge and leadership to this program. I hope to help Josh continuously grow the women's soccer program and I am looking forward to a strong season this fall."

In 2021, Padilla graduated from Alabama State University with a degree in biology and a minor in chemistry. She added a master's degree in exercise science from Auburn University in Montgomery in 2023.

Padilla played five years of soccer at Alabama State, helping her team to three Southwestern Athletic Conference Titles including the first in program history in 2016, and three NCAA Tournament appearances. She was named SWAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2016, Lakewood Hall of Fame Collegiate Soccer Player of the Year in 2016 and 2017, SWAC first-team all-conference in 2016, and second-team all-conference in 2021.

In 2016, Padilla graduated Mayfair High School in Lakewood, California where she played four years of soccer. She was team captain as a junior and senior, All-Suburban League Defensive MVP as a junior and senior, first-team Dream Team, and first-team all-California Interscholastic Federation.

Padilla is from Bellflower, California. She is the daughter of Roger and Valeria Padilla and has three brothers, Elijah, Joshua, and Michael.

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