Marcelo Perez has a good mentor. The goalie on the Pescadero High School boys soccer team is coached by a man who played the same position for most of his life and is used to directing a team of players.
This is Enrique Marin’s first season coaching the boys soccer team after a five-year hiatus. But, as a lifelong soccer player, he brings enormous experience and passion to the game.
Marin, 51, seems to have found that tricky balance coaches strive for. It’s the stern hand coupled with an easy-going manner that allows the kids to be themselves and play their best.
And it appears to be working. The Vikings currently have a 3-4-2 record, which may not sound like cause for celebration, but consider this: Prior to this season, the team hadn’t won a game in two years. Not only were they losing, they were getting blown out consistently and could barely field enough players to put in the game.
Now they are on the verge of a playoff berth. Though Marin is quick to credit his players’ heart and toughness, sometimes it takes the right coach to tap into the athletes’ potential.
“They try so hard, and that makes me keep going too,” Marin explained. “I enjoy seeing them play and try so hard. Every single day I learn a lot from them, and that makes me come every day to join them.”
They have 18 players, still a small group, but competitive. They travel frequently to games, sometimes twice a week. Their first win was the first game of the season, and it was a welcome event for the players. Marin said the seemingly inevitable losing streak can wear on players and he was glad to see the team earn that win.
“Everybody was so happy on the bus,” Marin said. “We got to school, and everybody was still happy. I could see their faces smiling, and their self-esteem was a lot higher than before.”
Marin’s coaching philosophy revolves around the atmosphere of the team. He’s focused on taking a personal approach to all his athletes. That involves dealing and taking jokes, which he believes encourages them to have a consistent presence on the team.
“You’ve got to be strict enough, but you’ve got to give them a little slack. You can’t just be grumpy all the time with them. Even though there may be something I don’t like at practice while I’m coaching, it’s all about being respectful and being a team leader.”