INDEPENDENCE – Jose Becerra will be the new coach of the boys varsity soccer team this fall, following the resignation of Joe Orozco.
Stepping into the role, which he accepted mid-April, was a natural progression for Becerra.
“I was raised here in Independence, so I was part of the community here, growing up. I went to Central High School, was in the class of ’07, then went to Oregon State University, got my teaching degree there, and started teaching, and currently I’m teaching in Corvallis, at one of the middle schools, where I teach social studies in Spanish for seventh and eighth grade.”
During college, he began coaching at CHS, and became the junior varsity coach from 2012-16, working under Mike Lynch, the head girls varsity soccer coach, for part of that time.
“I love teaching, I love being around the kids,” Becerra said.
It was Lynch who told Becerra he should apply for the head coaching position.
“I thought about it for a bit,” Becerra said. “I remember when I was here I enjoyed the program a lot, and I just thought I was ready for a head position, and I was like, why not go back to Central where I grew up? I love the community, and I love working with the kids. I have a lot to give back to the community, ultimately, I just wanted to come back.”
Lynch said he’s looking forward to what Becerra will bring to the program.
“Coach Becerra is a quality person,” Lynch said. “As a graduate of Central, he has ties to the community that will help him grow the program. When he was my JV coach I was always impressed with how he was able to communicate and motivate the young players. As a teacher he is able to show a lot of these young men that a quality education is not out of reach. I see this program growing under his tutelage.”
The official soccer season begins Aug. 19.
Becerra already has an idea of what he wants for the team.
“I’d say, goal-wise, is to help the kids understand that it’s not just about soccer, life is not about soccer, but you learn a lot of things through the sport: how to be responsible, how to be committed to something, how to be on time, how to work with others, communication,” he said. “As far as performance on the field goes, as long as the players are improving. I know it’s going to be a young team. It takes a lot of work, so just being consistent, and hoping to see growth throughout every week.”
Most of the team last year consisted of seniors, all of whom graduated a few weeks ago.
“A lot of the players for this year do not have varsity experience, so it’s going to be different, especially when league starts,” Becerra said, because we are one of the most competitive leagues. There are a lot of great teams in this league. So I’m looking forward to it.”
Having a successful team requires building a culture that the kids can relate to, Becerra said.
“From my experience growing through the program, having a lot of get-togethers outside of practice so players can get to know one another in a different way, and the coaches in a different way, is how we create that culture,” he said. “I know that being in the sport and trying to make varsity and being one of the top players, that competition can sometimes get in the way, so giving them that time to be themselves and get along with one another and see that we’re here for the same thing. We’re here for each other on the field and off of it.”
Soccer has been a part of Becerra’s life since he was in the third or fourth grade, and he’s been in love with the sport since. He helped the Panthers make it to the semifinals during his senior year at CHS. In college, he played on intramural teams and in clubs.
He said he’s excited for this fall. “I love soccer, and I love this community. And you never really hear about Central – it’s not really on the map … for soccer. And I just want to put it on the map a little more, and let people know that Central exists, and that we have a lot of great kids, and demonstrating that on the field and off the field.”