A castle on the field

A castle on the field

LAPC men’s soccer team’s Head Coach Julio Castillo addresses his players prior to their match against LAPC at LACC Soccer Field in Los Angeles, Calif., on Sept. 1, 2023. Today marks a significant return for the team, which is back in action after a hiatus of four decades. Photo by David Pashaee. 

For the first time in more than 40 years Pierce College men’s soccer has returned.

Pierce men’s soccer coach Julio Castillo started playing soccer around the time he started in Reseda High School. 

“It wasn’t until high school that I got into soccer. I got into it little by little,” Julio said. 

Coaching never came to Castillo’s mind when he played the game. All he wanted to do was to be involved around the sport and learn more of the material. Before being named as head coach for the men’s soccer team, he was already part of the coaching world for California State University of Northridge and Los Angeles Mission College for the men’s program. He then joined the staff as an assistant for Pierce women’s soccer coach Adolfo Perez. 

LAPC men’s soccer Team’s Head Coach Julio Castillo relays tactical instructions to his players from the sidelines during the ongoing match against LAPC at LACC Soccer Field in Los Angeles, Calif., on Sept. 1, 2023. Photo by David Pashaee. 

“All of the sudden things changed,” he said. “Adolfo was looking for an assistant, and right before covid I got into it. And we thought maybe the men’s program would come up and we’d be there ready to work on it.”

Castillo played for Perez at Mission College, and they became friends. Perez took him under his wing and was excited for him to be named head coach. 

“I was very excited for him. I think he deserves it,” Perez said. 

Other than being a husband and father, he cares about his players like if they were his own children. 

Head coach Julio Castillo uses Diego Nava as an example during practice at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif., on Aug. 31, 2023. Photo by Felipe Gamino.

He wants to teach his players what goes on outside the field. 

“That’s what we are looking at,” he said. “On the field we’re going to win, we’re going to lose, we’re going to tie some games, but, in reality, we’re trying to prepare them for the real world. That’s our goal, that’s what we want,” Castillo said. 

Castillo wants to make his players better physically and mentally. Perez agrees that they are there to help them prepare for the next chapter of their lives.

“He’s got an affectionate personality,” Adolfo said. “He’s little, but he barks. I think he fits perfectly for this position because he’s a Latino. He attracts kids in his real life situations, he relates to them.”

So far this season the soccer team has a 2-1 record.

Forward Pedro Jr. Perez explained how much Castillo gives the team advice off and on the field.

“He works us hard, he disciplines all of us, he’s a good coach,” Pedro Jr. Perez said. “He knew me in middle school and wanted me to play for his high school, but now since we are reunited again it feels good to be with him. It was meant to be. The impact Julio has for this team is a great way of showing what a role model really is.”

Pedro Jr. Perez explained what Castillo does off the field. 

“He talks to me everyday,” he said. “He’s very supportive of me, and I’m pretty sure he’s like that with every other kid here too.” 

Athletic Director Deborah Hefter explained how impact a teacher or coach can have with one person to another, and to a student who needs a role model. 

“I often tell coaches they might not remember every athlete that they get to impact,” Hefter said. “As a swimmer, I don’t remember every person I taught to swim, but I guarantee they remember you as a coach, because the impact you have as a coach is bigger than sometimes you can even imagine.” 

Men’s soccer head coach Julio Castillo at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif., on Sept. 7, 2023. Castillo leads the program after a 43-year absence. Photo by Felipe Gamino.