New girls varsity soccer coach to lead this season

Ethan Chen, Editor-in-Chief and Webmaster

A new girls’ varsity soccer coach will be taking over the team following the previous coach’s unexpected leave after a tough season last year.

The new coach, Armando Luna, is a local graduate from Foothill College and San Jose State University who has had over 20 years of experience  coaching soccer. Since the age of 18, Luna has coached teams from Los Altos High, Palo Alto Soccer Club, and Stanford Soccer Club, where he is also currently coaching

Armando Luna, the new coach of the Paly Girl’s Soccer Team, will be replacing the previous coach after an unexpected leave. “I just want to focus on what we have first and try to develop the players as best as I possibly can,” Luna said in an interview. Photo by Ethan Chen.

Luna’s goals for the girls’ soccer team are simple: to develop each individual player, ultimately leading to qualification to the local athletic league.  

“We want to make CCS [Central Coast Section] and stuff like that, but realistically, I just want to focus on what we have first and try to develop the players as best as I possibly can,” Luna said during a pre-season team meeting.

The key to a good team, according to Luna, lies in good player development.

“I feel like if I do a good job in developing the player, then naturally the team develops as well,” Luna said. “If you can do those two things, then the third one, winning, will take care of itself.”

This player-centric focus is beneficial for both the students and the team as a whole, and Luna hopes that this focus will lead to a better team overall. 

While athletic development does play a large role, Luna believes that student academic achievement comes first and foremost, even during the soccer season.

“Realistically, we understand that [the players] are student athletes, and the student part comes first,” Luna said. “That’s why they call it student athletes, not athletes student.”

Additionally, Luna aims to give all players equal opportunity through a merit-based system, basing position selection on ability and skill rather than simple seniority. 

“In my mind, there’s no such thing as seniority or anything like that,” Luna explained during the meeting. “If you come in here and train as hard as you possibly can, you earn every minute that you get on the field.”

Luna’s entrance fills a vacancy left behind by the previous junior varsity girl’s soccer coach, who did not return this year for personal reasons. The previous coach was expected to take over the varsity team, whose coach last year, Ernesto Cruz, is taking a break after the previous season.

“I think there was a conflict between the demands at work and the demands of being a sports coach,” said Nelson Gifford, the athletic director at Paly. “He [the previous coach] stepped in last year in a pinch when we needed a coach and we didn’t have one. He volunteered his time and his services and he did a great job. And now we’re fortunate to get somebody in who I think can continue his good work.”

Since last year’s varsity coach is taking a break and last year’s junior varsity coach has left, Luna will only fill one role out of two. Thus, a new junior varsity coach, named Jessie Berta, will also be joining Luna this year.

Tryouts for the varsity girls soccer team will begin on Nov. 5, according to a calendar published by