With Mexico City roots, Alfredo Naim '07 found an international community at St. Edward's that emboldened him to highlight and connect the overlooked audience in Austin ready for fútbol in the city. 

Austin had long been a soccer city. The youth leagues were exceedingly competitive. Both The University of Texas and St. Edward’s boasted winning teams. Attendance for Mexican League matches in the city was consistently strong. And though ultimately stymied by infrastructure and other issues, the city twice hosted Division II MLS clubs: first the Austin Aztex, and later Austin Bold FC. Still, Austin was the largest market in the nation without a professional team, says Alfredo Naim ’07, director of fan development for Austin FC.

“There’s always been a really strong soccer spirit,” Naim says. “Austin just didn’t have a way to share it with the world.”

That all changed in January 2019, when, after years of behind-the-scenes maneuvering, the MLS finally welcomed Austin FC as its newest franchise.

“We’re going to unite this city,” said Anthony Precourt, the club’s majority owner. “We’re going to make you proud.”

But the community building started years earlier. When Austin FC began searching for a potential stadium site, they briefly considered open space at St. Edward’s. The conversation didn’t last long, but fast-forward a few years to its first preseason in the spring of 2021, and the club was scrambling to find a practice facility.

Alfredo Naim standing in Q2 Stadium for Austin FC and smiling

“Once I visited Austin and took a campus tour, I immediately fell in love with both the city and the university,” he says. “And as time went on, I kept on falling in love.”

Soon, the new Q2 Stadium would fill with thousands of screaming fans. And the St. David’s Performance Center, Austin FC’s new $45 million training complex, would suit the team’s every need. But soon wasn’t soon enough. After surveying several options, the new club contracted with St. Edward’s to practice on the Lewis-Chen Family Field, in the heart of campus, and — as a sign of appreciation — to endow an athletic scholarship for NCAA Division II student-athletes.

“Whenever you would walk through campus and see our team finally together after all the struggle, training in the middle of all those mighty oaks, it was cathartic,” says Naim. “You kind of felt like it was destiny.”

Today, when fans think of Austin FC, they likely think of its starting lineup of elite athletes. But like every professional sports franchise, the players and coaching staff are supported by publicists, community liaisons, operations managers and more who bolster the team and ultimately the city it represents, too.

That’s where Naim comes in. Born in Mexico City, Naim — like the rest of his family — has always loved fútbol. They spent virtually every Sunday at Estadio Azteca, cheering for Club América, one of the city’s three professional teams, with a sea of other fans. But Naim’s father was an elastics manufacturer, and when the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed in 1993, he jumped at the opportunity to expand his market in the United States. He moved both his factory and his family across the border to McAllen, in the Rio Grande Valley.

Naim kept cheering for Club América from afar, and he kept playing soccer himself. When it was time to choose a college, he headed five hours north to Austin, a city with a deep-rooted passion for soccer, even though it didn’t have a pro team. St. Edward’s, too, had always been a soccer school, he says, its Division II men’s and women’s teams often leading their conference. And its international student body made him feel welcome.

“Once I visited Austin and took a campus tour, I immediately fell in love with both the city and the university,” he says. “And as time went on, I kept on falling in love.”

Alfredo Naim standing with other officials discussing on the field at Q2 stadium

After completing his degree in Business Administration, he became a sales assistant for two stations owned by Waterloo Media — KLBJ-AM and KLZT, a local Spanish-language radio station. He started producing live events for KLZT. And when Mexican League soccer teams toured through the city, he helped coordinate fan fests and other events.

“Whenever we brought Mexican League matches to the Dell Diamond, we got really strong attendance,” he says. “That’s why promoters ended up making Austin a stop for Mexican League soccer. The demand was so high.”

Eventually Naim sold a sponsorship for Blues on the Green, one of Waterloo Media’s biggest events, to Austin FC, yet another way for the city’s new professional soccer club to introduce itself to the community. Naim stayed in touch with his contacts at the club, and when the manager of community marketing position opened up in February 2020, he jumped at the opportunity.

“My role is to engage with our fan base and maintain Austin FC’s community relations,” he says. “It’s a lot of relationship building, analyzing markets and behaviors. I use my background in economics every day.”

By Carson Vaughan
Photography by Chelsea Purgahn


Explore more of this 5-part series of Hilltoppers who are part of a cultural shift as Austin embraces its first major-league pro team, Austin FC.


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Tony Ho standing against wall and looking away

Childhood Passions Meet Post Grad Opportunities

Austin connections open career doors for student Tony Ho '21.

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Emely Alvarado standing and smiling

From Brand Ambassador to Integral Club Member

Emely Alvarado '21 shares her rise at Austin FC.

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José Covarrubias wearing Austin FC gear looking into Q2 Stadium

Finding Purpose in the Big Picture

How a St. Edward's connection helped José Covarrubias '18 realize his calling.

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Dempsey cheering at Austin FC game

Alumni Channel Hilltop Spirit for Austin FC

Stephanie '08 and Edward Dempsey '05 exemplify Hilltopper pride with La Murga de Austin.