Soccer review: winning on and off the field

Soccer review: winning on and off the field

Pierce College Men’s Soccer ended the season with 8-8-3, but their bond and academic prioritization that they now share speaks louder than a simple scoreboard, and this has been championed by head coach Julio Castillo.

Over the course of the 2023-2024 men’s soccer season, Castillo has forged the production of a new soccer team, which has led to his players being united both on and off the field.

“In the program, the only thing I wanted was to build something for the community. My proudest moment is the ability to bring a group of guys not knowing what to expect and to see them succeed on and off the field,” Castillo said. “X’s and O’s, wins and losses, they will come as we play games, but being able to see this group of young men coming to their own form of bond, that’s something special.”

Midfielder Gilberto Chavez, who is dubbed Beto, expressed how he and his teammates are not just a group of young men sharing the same jersey.

“We’re like brothers. Some of us want to hang out after practice and go out, for the most part, it’s not really a team, we’re like a family,” Chavez said. “We play for each other, it’s eleven on the field, not just one.”

This bond, though, is not one that is only present between players, but rather it is one that is greatly shared with Castillo and his team.

Forward Pedro Perez Jr. shared the role Castillo has had on his mental outlook on life.

“He has helped me a lot to build a strong mindset and has talked to me a lot about his life. He knows where I come from and he has done a good job being a coach and a friend to me and everyone else around him,” Perez said. “I hope to get advice on where to go and what to do with my life because he has been in the same shoes as me, and I hope to get inspiration from him.”

Castillo communicated that his relationship with Perez began when he sought to be a guiding figure for him when they met back in middle school.

“Having known him for a while, I knew that we had similar backgrounds and the best way for me to make sure that he succeeds is for me to share with him my experiences so that he won’t make the same mistakes that I did, and try to take advantage of the opportunity to graduate college and get his degree,” Castillo said.

With Castillo, emphasis isn’t just placed on soccer but also on the player’s academics, particularly maintaining good grades.

“Our goal is for all the recruited student-athletes to be willing to put in the work on and off the field and in the classroom with their academics,” Castillo expressed. “We want to be able to graduate these guys and move them on to a four-year school. Every year that is going to be our priority.”

From a player’s perspective, Chavez expressed the emphasis that Castillo places on education for him and his teammates.

“We had to become full-time students to actually join the team, so in that case, it’s very important that we actually attend school,” Chavez said. “Julio has this thing where you’re not cleared to play unless you have twelve units. He’s always stressing how important school is and how we have to get our spring classes.”

Now that the spring is here, their off-season, Castillo’s working to actualize his plan for his team.

“Now that we are done with the conference our plan is to be able to still meet with the guys, maybe once or twice a week, or still practice a little, but our main goal is to make sure these guys are taking care of their academics,” Castillo conveyed. “We’re going to meet probably in the weight room one day, practice one day, and for the rest, hit the library and study hall, hit the books, making sure that we’re keeping on top of our homework.”

Men’s soccer team celebrate a win in Woodland Hills, Calif., on Sept. 8, 2023. Photo by Benjamin Hanson. 

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