Photo by JT Keith.
KINGMAN – On Senior Day, Lee Williams’ first-year soccer coach Gabe Otero carried an injured player off the field and helped him ice an ankle.
At halftime, senior Carlos Castenda transitioned the family number (9) to his younger brother, Jose. It has been a Castenda family tradition: passing down the No.9 as each senior plays their last soccer game at home. Brother Marco passed it him.
What does this have to do with Lee Williams soccer? Everything. Soccer at Lee Williams is more than a sport, it is family.
Otero didn’t win a region game (3-15, 0-6 4A Grand Canyon Region) in his first year of coaching at the high school level. Otero played two freshmen, five sophomores, and six juniors along with the two seniors.
He has identified the need to improve scoring and to get better goalie play in order for his team to be successful next season. Otero feels with the incoming freshmen class there is talent that can contribute right away.
“I knew we would be young,” Otero said. “And I knew it would be a struggle. I anticipated us doing better than what we did.”
With the Volunteers taking it on the chin this year, look for their soccer IQ to improve as his team gets older and matures. That will come from playing on the pitch this summer.
Otero feels one of the main differences between club soccer and high school soccer is club soccer athletes are very competitive and like being coached hard. Parents are supportive and will do everything they can to help their children get to the next level.
Whereas on the high school level, some of the players may have never played soccer, or they come out just to try something different and to have fun. The talent level is different. In club you can pick your team, in high school everyone’s talent level is different.
“In competitive soccer I can push athletes,” Otero said. “In high school it was good for me to adjust my attitude toward the athletes I have. It has made me a better coach.”
Otero feels good about Castaneda continuing his soccer career and receive an education after accepting an offer from Gateway Community College on Friday.
“My goal is to touch base with every coach in Arizona,” Otero said. “I want my kids and other area kids to go to college, and get an education, and play soccer if they so desire.”
Look for Lee Williams soccer to rebound after a difficult first year.