Coach Jaime Gonzalez addresses the audience at a soccer awards banquet on Tuesday, Nov. 19, at the Ontario High School cafeteria. (The Enterprise/Joe Siess)
ONTARIO – For coach Jaime Gonzalez, the soccer program at Ontario High School is about more than just soccer. It is about coaching players to do good – on and off the field.
Gonzalez tells his players to get good grades, to take care of their families, to be respectful, and of course, to win.
And that is exactly what the Ontario Tigers did. They won the league title in the Greater Oregon League for the second year in a row, making school history.
Gonzalez was also voted coach of the year by the coaches from the other three teams in the league. Those teams include Mac-Hi, La Grande, and Baker/Powder Valley.
“It’s a big honor. I’ve obviously never had it,” Gonzalez said. “This is the first time in the four years that I’ve been here coaching.”
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Gonzalez said that he was shocked, but excited when he heard that he was voted coach of the year, but he was more excited to announce it for the boys at the Nov. 19 soccer banquet.
Gonzalez credited the boys and their participation for the honor.
“We all kind of did it together,” he said. “It is an individual award but it’s the whole team… they were disappointed last year that I didn’t get that, so they are proud of me I think, so that’s always cool,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez works part-time for the U.S. Postal Service when he is not coaching the Tigers.
A graduate of Ontario High, he said part of being a coach is motivating students to come back after they graduate and contribute to their community.
For him, coaching is his way of giving back.
Gonzalez said his soccer coach, when he played at Treasure Valley Community College, motivated him to become a coach.
“I had a club coach in Boise who was a big mentor for me, and he was the coach at TVCC and he was kind of why I got into coaching as well because he had a big influence on me,” Gonzalez said.
Another influence on Gonzalez’s decision to be a coach was the birth of his son and nephew and the desire to continue to be part of their lives in that way.
The same goes for his brother, Javier Gonzalez, who coached the Ontario girls to the playoffs this season.
“We both wanted to be involved in some way so that was something that influenced my decision to be a coach,” Gonzalez said.
“I just want to keep sharing the game with people, seeing new faces in the crowd, even if they don’t know soccer but just getting their support from the community. That’s huge, it means a ton to these kids,” he said.
Gonzalez said, as a coach, being a positive influence and teaching the students life skills, and to do the right thing is important, and shows them that they can do more in life.
“If you do the right thing, if you make the good decisions, you usually come up on top. Whether it’s school, family, soccer, that’s why we do this. It’s for them,” he said.
“Just to see different faces, people walking up on the street saying ‘hey, you play soccer’… ‘I’m proud of you,’ and as a teenager it’s cool because the adults are saying good things about you,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez doesn’t like to boast. But at the banquet, Gonzalez said he’s been receiving emails from teachers telling him how much his boys on the soccer team participate in class, and how respectful they are.
“I like to brag about that,” Gonzalez said.
After the banquet, Gonzalez told his boys to help clean up before they left.
“Be a gentleman,” he told them with a grin.
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