Super Bowl to Silicon Valley: Former Hornet, NFL football star builds new career at GoPro

Former Sac State football player Lonie Paxton ’00 (Communication Studies) enjoyed a successful 12-year career in the NFL, winning three Super Bowls with the New England Patriots. Now, he’s forging a new career, working as a global entertainment marketer for GoPro.

Sacramento Republic FC keeper Josh Cohen balances school, professional sports

Josh Cohen’s regimented daily schedule begins sometime between 8 and 9 a.m. in the training room, where he’ll spend the next three to five hours. Then he gets a couple hours of downtime before heading to Sacramento State for his evening classes, which this semester start at 4 p.m.

Other evenings? You’ll find him on the soccer pitch, parked in front of the goal and trying to keep the Sacramento Republic FC’s opponent from scoring.

“Playing for Sacramento, in particular, is amazing just because of the fan base we have and the culture of the team in Sacramento,” said Cohen, the starting goalkeeper for the Republic. “At every game, we have 10,000, 11,000 people out there.”

Cohen also is a master’s in mechanical engineering student in his third semester at Sacramento State, balancing school with life as a professional athlete. The Sunnyvale native completed his undergraduate degree at UC San Diego.

Playing soccer professionally has been a dream of Cohen’s since he was a small child, but when that dream came true and he was deciding where to play, his higher education goals definitely were a factor.

“Choosing to play in Sacramento, (Sacramento State) did factor into that decision. I looked up the engineering program and looked up the schedule and the type of classes that were offered,” he said. “I liked how they divided up the coursework into different subcategories, and I could focus on one or two categories that were interesting to me.”

For Cohen, that meant focusing on automation and mechanical design. He enjoys building devices and machines, and says he enjoys working on side projects, such as the 3-D printer he made last year and continues to improve.

Though he hopes to continue playing soccer professionally for as long as possible, he hopes to work as an engineer when his playing days are over. And while his undergraduate education was focused on theory and seemingly on preparing people for academic careers, he says he appreciates Sacramento State’s focus on real-world education, something he knows will make him a more valuable employee whenever he does enter the workforce.

“My interest has always been more in the nitty-gritty, industry, getting-my-hands-dirty side of things,” Cohen said. “And I feel like here, I get a lot of experience.”

Former Hornet quarterback Aaron Garcia to be inducted into Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame

Aaron Garcia ’94 (Physical Education), a Sacramento native who spent two seasons as the starting quarterback for the Hornet football team before going on to a successful career in the Arena Football League, is one of five local athletes who will be inducted later this month into the Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame.

garcia1Garcia, who grew up in Del Paso Heights and graduated from Grant High School in 1989, spent two seasons as the quarterback for Washington State University before transferring to Sac State, throwing for 1,798 yards and 16 touchdowns in his senior year.

After graduation, Garcia found a home in the Arena Football League, spending 19 years in the league and winning Arena Bowl XXIV with the Jacksonville Sharks while also earning the game’s most valuable player honors. He finished his career as the league’s career leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns.

Following his playing career, Garcia spent one season as the coach of the Las Vegas Outlaws. Today, he is the head of athletics at Sacramento’s Capital Christian High School.

Garcia and his fellow honorees will be formally inducted into the Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame during a celebration Saturday, Jan. 26, at Thunder Valley Casino Resort.