The Student News Site of Gabrielino High School

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Winter coaches’ corner

By Kaylee Chan | Editor-in-Chief, Jordan Hum | Copy Editor and Yilin Yao | Staff Writer

Photos by Brenda Belmonte | Tongva Times

Rafa Moran

Girls soccer coach

   Practice. Passion. Persistence.

   The Gabrielino High School girls soccer team has all these qualities in spades. The program has a legacy of success, based on a large part of the work of girls soccer coach Rafa Moran.

   Moran’s work at Gabrielino started when he was invited by a friend to take on the position of girls soccer coach in 2011. As someone already deeply entrenched in the world of sports, he found it only natural to come on the job.

   “Playing sports is my profession,” Moran said matter-of-factly. “I’ve played soccer in high school, college… it’s just what I do.”

   Since then, Moran has guided the girls soccer team to win CIF nearly every year in what has been a rewarding career loaded with ever surmounting goals.

   “The girls soccer program has seen quite a bit of success and high expectations,” said Moran. “Honestly, it takes a toll on the players, even during tryouts— they’re intimidated.”

   Last year, the season did not take place due to COVID-19 lockdowns, but in 2019, the team was met with victory in the CIF championships. Despite the pressure to maintain such a profound legacy, Moran still finds joy in the work he does.

   “My favorite part about being a coach is helping players learn the game. I especially enjoy teaching them life lessons,” Moran said.

Miguel Garcia

Boys soccer coach

   Under the warm afternoon sun, members of the boys soccer team pass the ball to each other across the turf, kicking up pieces of plastic grass as they repeat their drills. From the sidelines, Coach Miguel Garcia observes their practice, his clear voice occasionally cutting through the haze of heat and movement to instruct the team to switch activities.

   Coaching is nothing new to Garcia, who has been the boys soccer coach for seven years. 

   “I’ve been playing soccer since I was a kid. I played soccer in middle and high school,” said Garcia. “Once I graduated, I volunteered in my local area to coach professionally. From there, my passion for coaching grew and grew.”

   The soccer program has grown with him. This year, Garcia noted, there were a lot of new faces, particularly sophomores. Although the season is still young, he carries high expectations for the team.

   “Just like every year, I expect to be improving,” Garcia said. “Our CIF division is very competitive, all the teams are very strong, but we’re closing the gap.”

   On non-game days, the team practices for two hours. They do warmups, drills, and walkthrough a game situation.

   “I love the satisfaction on their faces as the things they learn in practice are implemented on the field,” reflected Garcia.

Desiree Almaraz

Girls basketball coach

   Unlike other teachers, Desiree Almaraz does not go home after a long day of teaching her AP Government class. Instead, she makes her way to the gym after school to teach an entirely different subject—basketball.

   Almaraz was recruited as the girls basketball coach in 2016, when she began teaching at Gabrielino. Her experience with playing basketball since elementary school and coaching eighth graders made her uniquely equipped for the job.

  “We’ve developed a culture of family on the team, both on and off the field,” said Almaraz.

  During practice, Almaraz guides the girls through conditioning and simple skill sets. She assists them by providing demonstrations.

   However, the daily commitment can occasionally be tiring in addition to Almaraz’s other teaching responsibilities.

   “It can be hard when it comes to staying on top of grades, especially during the season,” Almaraz admitted.

   Despite the extra load, Almaraz has found a lot of fulfillment in being a coach for the team.

   “My favorite part [of coaching] is when lightbulbs go off in the players’ heads,” Almaraz said. “There are moments where the offense or defense just clicks and we start dominating.”

   Last year the girls basketball team finished the season 10-1 in league, a sign of Almarez’ strong coaching and dedication.

John Carney

Boys Basketball coach

   “I expect us to win every game. It’s an ambitious goal but this team is definitely capable of it,” stated Coach John Carney of boys basketball.

   Carney has overseen the Gabrielino basketball program for 20 years, all in addition to teaching U.S. History and Government. He took a one-year break from coaching last season, but is now he back to guide the Eagles to a season of success.

   Carney has a lot of faith in the team, despite the one-year hiatus during the pandemic. 

   “The team is built on hard work, desire, and teamwork,” Carney stated.

   A tall and intimidating figure, it may come as a surprise to learn that Carney is a jokester. Whether it is light-hearted jabs at his players or a relevant joke about the NBA, Carney tries to promote a fun environment while pushing his players to their limits.

   The basketball team practices for two hours every day, except Sundays. They run countless suicides to improve their conditioning, and they scrimmage to simulate game environments under Carney’s careful instruction. 

   Instead of yelling when someone makes a msitake, Carney explains clearly what they did wrong.

   “I love seeing everyone’s hard work pay off,” he said. “[It is great] when the effort put into practice is translated into winning games.”

Marcelino Ruiz

Wrestling coach 

   While some people wilt under pressure, wrestling coach Marcelino Ruiz embraces it. 

   Starting off as a football player, Ruiz became attached to wrestling after trying it with his best friend in high school. Ruiz  “fell in love” with the sport instantly because of its individuality. 

   Ruiz has been the head coach of Gabrielino’s wrestling team for eight years and the responsibility of that job is something Ruiz admires. Not only does Ruiz want to teach his students how to wrestle and improve their skills, he wants to teach them important life lessons, such as taking responsibility as an individual, learning how to step up when other people fall, and the value of failure.  

   Wrestling puts a lot of responsibility on the athletes participating. Ruiz preaches the importance of healthy lifestyles to his team. In a sport with weight-cutting, this message only becomes more important as the season progresses. 

    “The main goals for the upcoming season is to boost more members on the team and also to make the sport more well-known and popular again since COVID-19 has really affected the program[s],” stated Ruiz.  

   Ruiz is determined to win this season by taking each practice day by day. Ruiz’s main focus is not just on his team’s technique and condition but also on building a strong team that supports each other along the way.  

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Winter coaches’ corner