As understatements go, let me note that it has been an “interesting” first season of my youngest son playing competitive soccer. While the back story is quite intriguing and, for those who didn’t actually live through it, entertaining as well, I’m going to err on the side of prudence for once and not give out the gory details. The end result, though, is that my son is playing for the Boys under-11 B team, holding his own with boys more than a year older than him, soaking up skills and knowledge instilled by an amazing coach, Yasert Ortega.
Standing on the spectators’ side of the field, I watch Yasert, his arm around my boy, talking to him and pointing out opposing players on the field as he readies my son to go in. I ask my son what his coach says to him, and he says that Yasert is showing him where he can take advantage and what he should do to counter others’ strengths. In short, he says, Yasert is coaching him.
They are not the best team in their league, but they are getting better and better as the season unfolds, as Yasert teaches them to think as a team and not as individual superstars. He is remarkably patient, and he remains mostly silent during the games, having little need to scream instructions as he’s prepared the boys before they have even stepped onto the field. That’s not to say he is disengaged; in fact, he is fully a part of the action.
I will give you one example of what sealed my admiration for him. We were trouncing another team several weeks ago, with the score something like 7-0 at the start of the second half. He had the boys start honing their passing skills, requiring a minimum of 10 consecutive passes before any one of them could shoot for a goal.
As I said in an email to him, which I copied powers-that-be on, “You impressed me so much, as well as all of the other parents on the other team and, I'm sure, the parents of the other boys on our team, when you told the boys to stop scoring. You let those boys on the other team leave with dignity. I couldn't ask for a better role model for my son. Thank you for everything you do. You are a fantastic coach. And, even better, one hell of a human being!"
I’m not the only one who feels such admiration for Yasert. And I’m so glad that he was named the Select Coach of the Year by the Novato Youth Soccer Association Friday. I’d like to share what some other people have to say about him.
NYSA President Tony Kenney understands why Yasert is Coach of the Year. Kenney said, “Yasert is not only a fantastic coach, but an incredible asset to NYSA as a whole. He is consistently the first to volunteer to coach our camps and academies, and he is always quick to help in times of need with respect to resolving issues. He represents our league in a positive and beneficial manner.”
Player Julian Watkins said, “Yasert is different from other coaches. If there’s a new drill, we do it until everyone knows it, not just for a few minutes and then go on to the next drill. Also, he gives everyone a chance on the field.”
“He is an energetic, enthusiastic, considerate and respectful role model for the boys as well as a skillful teacher and team builder,” parent Tim Blofeld said.
Another parent, David Porter, said, “Yasert has been able to rally the boys into a strong and cohesive team.”
Yasert’s ability shows as far as Porter’s son, Josiah, is concerned. Josiah told his dad, “We’re getting so good!”
They are getting so good, and that’s in large part a reflection on Yasert and his abilities. Congratulations, Yasert. You deserve Coach of the Year.