MMA Colonels Athletic Outlook for Fall 2021

MMA Colonels Athletic Outlook for Fall 2021

At Missouri Military Academy, challenging physical activity and competitive middle school and high school athletics help young men become better versions of themselves. Through high school (varsity and junior varsity) and middle school athletics, cadets develop leadership and team building skills, improve their overall health and coordination, increase self-confidence and discipline, and reduce stress by providing a fun outlet to release energy. All cadets participate in athletics.

The fall season athletic roster includes football, soccer, JROTC Raiders, swimming and cross country. Learn more about MMA Colonels Athletics here, and scroll down to learn about the coaches' expectations for the fall 2021 varsity seasons.


Coach: Mike Pfeifer

New to the Colonels coaching staff in 2021, Mike Pfeifer grew up in the St. Louis area and spent 14 years in the U.S. Army Reserves and Missouri National Guard with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2001, he was an assistant coach for the Kaiserslautern Pikes, a semi-pro football team in Germany. He also worked for the Missouri Department of Corrections for 13 years, spending four of those as a recreation director.  

He lives in Mexico with his wife, Kayla, and their four children. He has coached nearly every sport his children have played through the years. He joined the Mexico Optimist Club and began coaching for Optimist Youth Football in 2015. Pfeifer was elected commissioner of Mexico Optimist Football in 2017 and president of the North Central Youth Football League in 2019. He created the Mexico Hounds Cross Country team and played a role in the birth of the North Central Missouri Youth Soccer and Mexico Fire Soccer Club leagues. His past experience also includes working for Mexico Area YMCA as sports director. He says he lives by the Optimist Club Creed and always strives to bring out the best in our youth.

Daily Practice: Getting familiar with the playbook and focusing on tackling. Look for the Colonels to have a good, solid team that tackles well.

Season Goal: To continue building on successes and go out and compete hard at every game.

Top Players: Top returners to the team are quarterback Jeremy Ansel, a junior from Tyler, Texas; offensive/defensive lineman Telmen Nasanbat, a senior from Roseville, California; offensive/defensive lineman Noah Johnson, a senior from Rogers, Arkansas; and linebacker/running back Gabriel Canonico, a junior from Falls City, Nebraska.

“Ansel is demonstrating leadership and toughness — he’s matured a lot as a person and an athlete over the past year,” Pfeifer says. “Nasanbat is dominating our offensive line right now. He’s gritty, the way he controls the line of scrimmage.”

Pfeifer says that Johnson is showing good leadership skills on the team and that Canonico is a solid player who shouldn’t be underestimated.

One of the newcomers to watch is Joseph Jackson, a senior from Kearney, Missouri. Jackson is aggressive and tough, according to Pfeifer.

What Cadets Take Away: “Teamwork. Our cadets work to win not just for themselves but for their MMA brothers, their fellow cadets. Football is the ultimate team sport. Everyone must work together to succeed.” — Coach Pfeifer



Coach: Elliot Goodwin  

New to the Colonels coaching staff in 2021, Elliot Goodwin is a United States Soccer C Licensed Coach and SafeSport certified. In addition to his professional soccer playing experience, Goodwin has coached for McKendree University and Saint Louis Scott Gallagher, and has led his teams to national tournaments and earned national rankings.

According to Goodwin, the most valuable aspect of soccer isn’t in the sport itself, but rather on the team.  

“No matter where you are from in the world, soccer is a universal sport which brings people together both on and off the field,” Goodwin said. “I value a positive culture within a team environment because a sense of togetherness and accountability allows individuals to feel significant as they pursue a common goal."

Daily Practice: Colonels soccer practice is a fun learning environment with a competitive edge. Training drills and sessions change from week to week, as the team focuses on fundamental skills, attacking principles, defending principles, and individual game principles. They work together as a group on game-like situations, as well as looking at formations and other key aspects of soccer.

Season Goal: Our goal this season is to work hard from the first whistle of the game until the last whistle. Teamwork and togetherness will forever be the most prevailing principle within a successful group. We want to compete at every opportunity possible, and each individual should be proud to wear to represent MMA on the soccer field.

Top Players: Top players for Colonels varsity soccer include three key returners. Cadet Jonathan Rukangira, a senior from Kigali, Rwanda, has good technical ability, speed and reads the game well. Cadet Michael Wever, a senior from O’Fallon, Missouri, has great feet and will be a threat for Colonels opponents this year. Cadet Maro Afane, a junior from El Salvador, does well and will also be a key player on the team, according to Coach Goodwin.

What Cadets Take Away: “I value a positive culture within a team environment because a sense of togetherness and accountability allows individuals to feel significant as they pursue a common goal. To do this, I ensure to provide guidance to a team and help them overcome adverse situations through direction, support and encouragement.

I massively encourage and believe in the family aspect of sports. No matter where you are from in the world, soccer is a universal sport which bring people together both on and off the field. I believe in building self-confidence through soccer and hope to inspire individuals through the game as we progress through the year. I don’t believe in a ‘win at all cost’ mentality, but more so believe in teaching the game the right way and learning at every opportunity possible.” — Coach Goodwin



JROTC Raiders

Coach: John Biddle  

Daily Practice: Practice consists of daily running routines that develop speed and endurance. Physical team events are similar to what will be required of the team when they compete at a Raider event. 

“My methods are to make the practices as realistic as possible to what the team will encounter during competitions. My philosophy is to get the cadets/Raiders to trust that what I am expecting of them during practices is going to pay off at competitions with wins. Or at least, the satisfaction that they felt that they performed at their best level,” says Coach Biddle.

Season Goal: To perform better than last season and to place higher than we did at Raider Nationals. 

Top Returners: Team Captains Cadet Kevin Wang (a third-year Raider), a senior from St. Clair Shores, Michigan, and Cadet Patricio Regis (a second-year Raider), a senior from Parkville, Missouri, are two top players to watch. Also expected to be key members of the MMA Raiders team this fall — Cadets Colin Beck, Gage Blanton, Rene Garcia-Garza, Clayton Nelson, Samuel Way, and Parker Woodruff.

“These Raiders are important because they are seasoned players and will help the new Raiders adjust faster with the rigors of the game with their mentorship,” says Coach Biddle.

Top Newcomers: Cadets Michael Henderson, Gabriel Iglesias, Ian Robison, Lucas Sydlewski, William Terrell, Alejandro Villarreal, Carlos Villarreal, and Allan Wilson. “They are rising to the challenge and showing 100% effort at practice,” Coach Biddle says.

What Cadets Take Away: Raiders, a non-traditional sport, creates teamwork, camaraderie, and a sense of pride in accomplishing some very difficult events. Each cadet learns a lot about what they can accomplish if they push themselves.  

Good to Know:  Each competition we attend will require an overnight stay at the hosting school's gymnasium or an early morning bus ride. Raider events start at 5:30 a.m. and last until approximately 4 p.m. There are typically 5-7 different events that the Raiders will compete in and there could be 10-30 teams competing.

Missouri Military Academy Cadets running

Swimming and Diving

Coach: Matthias McManus

Daily Practice: Sprint training for speed and focusing on building up endurance with distance. The inclusion of swim drills help with the development of all the strokes.

Season Goal: To go undefeated.

Top Players: Top returning swimmers are Anthony Melick, a junior from Overland Park, Kansas; Kevith Sangster, a senior from Las Vegas, Nevada; Nathaniel Espinoza, a sophomore from Miami, Florida; Ruhan Chowrira, a senior from Weston, Massachusetts; Tyler Harris-Avery, a sophomore from Danville, Illinois; Landon Kjolhede, a sophomore from West Point, Nebraska; and Jingxuan Yan, a senior from Xiamen, China.

A top new swimmer to watch is Anthony Jordan Phillips, a sophomore from Cabot, Arkansas.

What Cadets Take Away: "In terms of character development, we aim to teach cadets teamwork, perseverance, and dedication. At every practice, I encourage uniformity, discipline, and hard work. Sports can be an avenue for the cadets to learn how to be leaders and to believe in their capabilities." — Coach McManus

New for MMA this year: Diving. Cadets are working with Coach Tori Webber to begin competitive diving this fall.

Cross Country

Coach: Dr. Ryan Nowlin

Daily Practice: Besides running, the most important piece for cross country is stretching.  We will spend time before and after practice stretching. We will run between 2.5-4.5 miles each day. On days before meets, we will reduce the distance to less than a mile and focus on stretching and the mental aspect of competitive running

Season Goal: To qualify for the Cross Country State Championships.

Top Players: New to the Colonels cross country roster this year, Cadet Bryson Powell, a junior from Brighton, Colorado, is one to watch. Arriving at MMA with a competitive time of 16 minutes (a full minute faster than any of MMA’s best runners last season), as recorded in competition at his previous school last year, he hopes to break the 15-minute mark this year.  Returning runner Cadet Ethan Zinser, a senior from Conway, Arkansas, ran an all summer and looks good as he returns for this season, according to Nowlin.

What Cadets Take Away: “We teach the importance of self-discipline and integrity on this team,” Nowlin says. “Cross country doesn't create character. It reveals strong character.”

Cadet News

Missouri Military Academy eighth grade Cadet Pittman receives writing award

Two eighth-grade MMA cadets were chosen to compete in the Missouri State High School Activities Association Middle-Level Sportsmanship and Citizenship Essay contest. Judges selected the top two MMA essays, written by Cadets Easton Nance and Harrison Pittman, to continue in higher rounds of judging. Congratulations to both cadets for their achievement, with a special congratulations to Pittman, whose essay was chosen as a district winner.

Read More about MMA 8th Grade Cadets Stand Out in Sportsmanship and Citizenship Essay Contest