By Mariana Montoya (J-101 Staff Writer)
Ricardo Raygoza, assistant coach for the East Los Angeles College men’s soccer team, started off as a player for the Huskies before he became an assistant coach.
He played at ELAC in 2005, and 2006. In those two years, he found head coach, mentor and main inspiration men’s soccer head coach Eddie Flores.
“He came to me as an older player and played two years for me. He came in with the understanding and desire to make it far, which we did that year,” said Flores.
He became assistant coach in 2008. He took a two year pause from coaching to play soccer and obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science Corporate fitness at Kansas Wesleyan University.
Within those two years, he shared success with his team by winning two consecutive championships.
He said it impacted his career. His main goal after graduating Wesleyan, was to return and continue being a coach for the Huskies.
“I am strict on the field with what I want. I give my players freedom, yes, with the understanding that when we are on the field business means business,” said Raygoza.One of his main goals in pursuing a career in coaching was to inspire younger generations to do something impactful with their lives.
“I want kids to succeed. I want them to be the best within their abilities and do what they want whenever they want. However, there has to be a lot of discipline. I try to squeeze as much juice out of my players, at least as much as I can to help them understand how great they can become as players,” said Raygoza.
Growing up in South Central Los Angeles, he said he understood the value of having someone who believes in his abilities as a player on the field and as a human.
“Sometimes players come from the hood, but he understands what it took to climb the ladder of success, ” said Flores.
Not only does he make sure his players and his friends are up to date with discipline and with their goals, but he also makes sure that they see someone in him to which they could look up to, said Raygoza.
“Ricardo is someone who I genuinely admire. He inspires me to continue pushing forward. I admire his tenacity and I know that he is where he is as a result of his hard work, dedication to his players and determination to be and give the best of himself despite the odds,” said Melanye Lopez one of Raygozas good friends.
She has known him for four years. She said he is like her brother, a friend and a person she admires deeply.
“I try to make sure I am leading my players with clear examples in myself or with clear explanation of something that I would like to see out in the field,” said Raygoza.
He said that one of the most important parts for him as a coach is that he gets to change lives.
“I get to save a lot of kids from having a bad life, so it is full on happiness,” said Raygoza.
He knew early on in his career as a soccer player that he wanted to become a coach, however, Raygoza said that the transition from player to coach was not a simple task.
“The level of respect is a lot different. You have to obviously make your players feel that there is more to them rather than trying to do it better than them,” Raygoza said.