cinthiaCOLLAGE800.5.0(PALM SPRINGS) – The mantra of the SoCal Coyotes is ‘Building Champions, Building Men,” and the three-time champs pride themselves on their delivery of ‘better fathers, better husbands, better men.’ But Coyote players swiftly learn that to have success within the Alpha-male-charged halls of this non-profit organization, the first skill they better acquire is how to treat, respect, communicate and interact with … a woman.

Meet Cinthia Ann-Marie Paiz (rhymes with ‘ice’), director of operations, loving single mother of three, and proud Native American who also works on the reservation of the Torres-Martiinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, providing temporary assistance to needy families. For new Coyotes, ‘Miss Cinthia,’ now in her fifth season, is likely the first smile they see, the first laughter they hear, and the first person they can count on – handling most player contracts and medical intake, guiding them through the team’s Code of Conduct, explaining the Social Media Policy, and organizing their equipment and uniforms.

For all Coyotes, she’s their lifeline to management, with daily texts, practice times, acceptable language, enforcement of policies, and schedule changes. As the Coyotes senior athletic trainer, she oversees management of their injuries, treatment, doctor appointments and follow-up care. Cinthia’s laughter and wit, tireless effort, and boundless energy “keeps the Coyote machine moving, week to week,” says head coach J David Miller.

But cross this one-time standout fast-pitch softball player – whose career nearly ended with a broken jaw from a line drive – and you’ll discover the ‘boundaries’ that have navigated this woman through a man’s world – with aplomb. Cinthia’s remarkable career has traveled from the dusty fields of the District West Pony League, to Coachella Valley High School, College of the Desert, to positions with the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and MLB’s Atlanta Braves.

Paiz uses humor effectively to keep things moving in a positive direction. Young athletes, often spoiled, seldom challenged, typically rely on playful curiosity to admit when they’re wrong, or to deflect confrontation. But the boundaries here are clear, something Coyotes’ staff speak of often in defining healthy lives, homes and careers.

“The young men who succeed here love her, because the smart ones realize immediately she’s there to help them, protect them, and she’s devoted her entire life to put them in a position to succeed,” says Coach Miller.

“We’re blessed to have such a talented professional woman who is a role model of spiritual integrity, believes and trusts in the word of God, preaches and teaches with power, and is committed to our mission of building young men who reflect integrity and respect,” he said.

Talent, indeed. Coyote assistant coach and trainer Mike McBride, a former state championship head coach at Coachella Valley High School, was responsible for grooming Paiz in her formative years. “In 50 years, I’ve seen them all,” says McBride, who introduced her to the Coyotes, “and she’s the best.” In addition to McBride, Paiz has been mentored by Dave Anderson, Michael Rada, Dr. L . Sam Reber and Dr. Steven Steele.

“Cinthia is constantly challenging our athletes off the field,” says Shane Helms, assistant head coach and VP Football Operations. “She’s firm, but she’s fair. She insists on proper, healthy communication. And in any relationship – home, work or play – communication is the key.”

If you’re a Coyote player, you don’t have much of a choice. You can’t even get taped, or get a uniform, without dealing with Miss Cinthia, or the rest of a staff that includes veteran trainer Heidi Navarro and a bevy of talented young women.

“If a man can’t communicate with a woman, it usually means they don’t know their own values and how to be true to themselves,” says Coach Miller. “Being a champion of any kind has to start right there.”

So who, really, is ‘Miss Cinthia’? She doesn’t like recognition, that’s for sure. But after receiving emails from Coyote fans who were asking – we chased her down, and asked her a few questions, and many of her answers you’ll never forget.


Q: By what names do you really like to be called?

A: Mom, Mommy and Momma by my children. Everyone else calls me Cinthia.

Q: What are your hobbies or interests that you like a lot?

A: I enjoy the outdoors. My favorite thing to do is play softball. My first coach was my Dad. I enjoy talking about family and just hanging out with them. I believe in experiences. Memories and moments are priceless.

Q: Who are your biggest influencers? Why?

A: My parents, Armando and Judi Paiz. My parents didn’t raise me as your typical girl. I was raised with boys –two brothers, Pastor Carlos Paiz, and Garrett Paiz, and lots of cousins. Don’t get me wrong – I have my female cousins, but I don’t think any of them are girly girls, except maybe one. I just remember growing up outside, playing with the boys (my cousins), and one of them pulling my hair. I wanted to cry but I had to be tough. They all kept saying I better not cry, I better not run inside, and I better not tell on them. I’m telling on them now.

Q: What increases your positive emotions, or ‘fills your buckets’ the most?

A: Helping others succeed – and then watching them do it – fills my buckets. I love creating meaning in others’ lives with small wins, all day. I love when purpose and procedure match.

Q: From WHOM do you most like to receive recognition and praise?

A: First and foremost would be God. He recognizes me every day when He wakes me up. God puts meaning in my moments.

Q: What’s your favorite verse in the Bible?

A: First Corinthians 13:6-7 – Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures ALL things.

Q: What advice do you have for others who work ‘behind-the-scenes’ in jobs like yours?

A: I love when someone you help sees what can be. That’s the reward. I’m not one for recognition. Recognition for me comes in the success of everyone around me. The occasional thank you or unexpected surprise gift is nice. But I’m not looking for it. Find the passion in your program. This must be a higher calling. The Coyotes are a ministry. We believe in service to others. We preach in service to others. We go out and serve our families and our communities. Playing championship football is just a reward for serving others.

Q: What’s the highest recognition you’ve ever received?

A: Three sets of eyes looking back at me calling me Mom. My little Caelie Ann (age10), Jeremiah Santana (age7) and, of course, John Michael (Coyote defensive back, age 19). They are my most precious resources. We have a limited number of days in our lives to make a difference. My children give me that opportunity every single day. My parents never missed a single event of mine. Most kids don’t have that honor or privilege to have their parents at everything they do. Even now as an adult, my parents are at my events, and now my children’s events. So seeing my children look at me the way I look at my parents – there is no greater recognition in the world.

–Brandon O’Neill, VP Program Development

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