Ontario High School varsity soccer coach Jaime Gonzalez was recently named as Oregon’s coach of the year by the National Federation of High Schools. (The Enterprise/PAT CALDWELL).
ONTARIO – For Jaime Gonzalez, success isn’t defined by wins and losses but by coaching life lessons and always showing his players he cares.
The Ontario High School boys’ soccer coach translated that recipe into success as he slowly built a championship program over the past few years.
That dedication was recently recognized when the National Federation of High Schools chose Gonzalez as its coach of the year for Oregon.
“It is one of those things where you don’t expect it but you feel proud of the program and all the people who contribute,” said Gonzalez.
Those contributions, said Gonzalez, are a key to his triumph and include involvement from his brother, Javier, who coaches the Tiger girls’ varsity soccer team.
“My brother and I and coach Danny Dominguez and many others have been involved with the soccer club here and our dream was always to try to bring a state championship in soccer to Ontario,” said Gonzalez. The Ida-Ore Soccer Club, said Gonzalez, played a pivotal role in building a successful program by teaching young players about soccer.
Gonzalez, who works for the U.S. Postal Service, said he is involved with each athlete, on and off the field.
“Kids are smart. They know who cares and who believes in them,” said Gonzalez.
Sports, said Gonzalez, teaches about overcoming adversity, working with others and striving for a goal as a team.
“I think sports go hand-and-hand with life skills. In our area, unfortunately, there isn’t lot of money so anything we can do to help kids get involved and play sports is good,” said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, 37, said the fact he and his brother were both born and raised in Ontario also plays a role.
“The kids know that and they can see we have a passion for it but we also have a passion for teaching kids life skills,” said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez has registered an array of prep soccer achievements since he took the helm of the boys’ team more than seven years ago.
In the past two seasons, more than a dozen of his players moved on to play soccer at the junior college level. He is also vice-president of the Ida-Ore Soccer Club. Statistics don’t motivate Gonzalez.
“To at least have these kids enjoy the sport and have them graduate with the highest grades possible,” said Gonzalez.
Grades are a big deal to Gonzalez. He strives to keep his athletes eligible and will go the extra mile to see that they remain eligible to play. If Gonzalez is notified by the high school one of his athletes is struggling in a class, he takes the challenge head on.
He will often visit the home of the athlete who is behind to talk with them about their challenges and to help them.
“I think it comes down to the kids knowing you care,” said Gonzalez. “We want them to go to school and get good grades.”
His award, said Gonzalez, is not about his success.
“It is really special for everybody and the town. We want to continue with something positive for Ontario High School,” said Gonzalez.
News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]
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