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Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank
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Students Get a Kick Out of Coaching Soccer Team

Dos Pueblos' Chris and Eswin Castillo, Kenny Lara and Barbara Aguiree combine their love of the game and kids for a big win

When three high school juniors and a sophomore set out to coach a Goleta Boys & Girls Club soccer team, they anticipated having a lot of fun. They didn’t know it would be a winning season, too.

Dos Pueblos High students Chris Castillo, a sophomore, and brother Eswin, Kenny Lara and Barbara Aguirre, all juniors, had been friends since they attended the GBGC program from age 7 through sixth grade. Earlier this year, they decided to give back by coaching 9- to 12-year-olds.

“We love soccer and we love kids, so we just put it together and volunteered to coach,” Chris Castillo said.

With little or no coaching experience but lots of experience playing, they set out to teach their team, Blue Fury. The Castillo brothers and Lara play at Dos Pueblos and began their soccer experience at the GBGC.

Starting in March, the high school students worked the younger students hard, with lots of running in the two practices a week. They organized drills, taught skills and doled out encouragement.

“They made us run so much, but practice was still fun,” said Nicholas Kushnerov, 11. “I really liked having them as my coaches.”

“Our plan was to have fun and win at the same time,” Eswin Castillo said. The other coaches agreed, adding that it was a balance between hard work and fun.

They won the championship game against their biggest rival, the Metros, with whom they were tied for first place. After a nail-biting game, Blue Fury pulled out the winning goal within minutes of the game’s finish.

Eswin Castillo said the best part of the season was not losing a game. Lara added, “It was a fun experience. I would definitely do it again.”

Aguirre’s advice to other coaches: “It’s a big time commitment. It’s worth it, but don’t do it if you don’t have the time.”

All four coaches plan to return to coach another season.

— Valerie Kushnerov is a soccer team parent.

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