Dec. 11, 2019
As the 2014 men’s soccer season draws to a close, the team prepares not only for the playoffs and an opportunity to compete at nationals, but a different season of soccer — one that extends beyond the field.
For some players, the end of the season means a well-earned break from the sport and a chance to relax, but for others, it is a chance to coach at local high schools and give back to the community.
Junior and team co-captain Joey O’Keefe is one of seven Biola men’s soccer players who will be coaching high school teams during the off-season.
“I love teaching these young players technical skills and being involved in their lives at such a young age,” said O’Keefe. “Coaches have invested so much time and effort into my career, starting when I was very young — so it’s imperative that older players pour knowledge and experiences into younger players in order for them to learn and grow.”
O’Keefe will coach at nearby La Mirada High School (LMHS) with Biola junior Stephen Tanquary, who currently leads the Biola team in goals, assists, and total points this season and recently received Academic All-District recognition. This is O’Keefe and Tanquary’s second year coaching at LMHS.
“It’s been such a blast coaching over at LMHS,” said Tanquary. “I’m still at a young enough age where I can really relate to these kids and meet them where they’re at, while at the same time maintaining a good level of respect. It’s cool to form some good relationships with them while being a light for Christ in a public school environment.”
La Mirada High School’s soccer head coach Phil Yovino (‘99), who is a Biola alumnus and also serves as the Biola men’s soccer assistant coach, offered O’Keefe and Tanquary the opportunity to coach locally. He believes their presence on the LMHS field helps encourage and challenge the students.
“I think it’s good for [LMHS players] to see young guys that love soccer, believe in something more than themselves, and push themselves,” said Yovino. “The high school students respect the amount of work that a lot of those players have put in, because a lot of them want to play beyond high school too.”
“They’re all collegiate players, so they’re all making a sacrifice of their time,” said Yovino. “They believe in soccer enough and they find a certain amount of satisfaction that comes with participating.”
The tradition of Biola soccer players assisting at LMHS has a long history. More than ten Biola men’s soccer graduates have spent time coaching the LMHS Matadors — most recently, alumni Marco Ruvalcaba (’13) and Tony Montalvo (‘12).
“I tend to bring guys on that I trust and that have a certain amount of responsibility instilled in them,” said Yovino. “Most of the people I choose to coach know that life extends beyond the game itself, but understand that the game often presents a lot of the similar trials and things that life will throw at you.”
Sophomores Daniel Martinez and David Oh will also be coaching after the season ends. They will join senior Stephen Campos at Whittier Christian High School. Martinez and Oh have already spent part of the fall season coaching a local club team, together.
“Working with David, I’ve seen how important it is to help these kids develop their weaknesses [on the field],” said Martinez. “It is essential to make them better, well-rounded players.”
While developing quality soccer players is a primary focus of all the coaches, the relationships they cultivate with high school students is a significant part of their role, too. Many LMHS soccer players support their coaches by attending the Biola men’s soccer home games.
“The cliché saying is that if you don’t believe in anything then you fall for everything,” said Yovino. “I think a lot of kids are already kind of falling through life and it’s important that they understand that the relationships you choose are going to be an important guideline for that.”
Men’s soccer will begin GSAC Tournament play on Nov. 5, as they travel to Vanguard University in a “win-or-go-home” match.
Written by Stephen Day, iBiola Reporter. For more information contact Jenna Bartlo, media relations specialist, at email@example.com, or Neil Morgan, sports information director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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