SJHS Coach Walt Guzman takes The Valley Chronicle on a tour of the school’s annual soccer camp
■ By Corey Evan / Reporter
True athletes don’t take the summer off. That’s one of many reasons why San Jacinto High School hosts its annual soccer camp during summer vacation. Spanning two weeks, their 2018 camp wrapped up on Friday, July 21.
It’s a coed camp, giving San Jacinto’s aspiring soccer stars a chance to kick the ball around. Over 40 students signed up for this year’s camp, with an average of 30 hitting the field. The majority of participants were freshman and sophomores, with upperclassmen showing up to give their future successors support… and a bottle of water. They took to the fields in the mornings, beating the heat before it could fully arrive.
SJHS Coach Walt Guzman says that despite the heat, the summer is really the best time they have to practice this way: “It’s the only time available for us since most of them play club soccer and then also some play other high school sports like volleyball when the school begins. I get help from the girls’ JV soccer team Coach Alejandro Gallegos and coach Jaime Vargas who is a volunteer coach and helps out with girls Frosh team.”
Guzman took over the girls’ soccer program in 2002, having coached boys’ soccer at Riverside’s Martin Luther King High for four years prior. “But after a couple of years we lost funding from the school (bus transportation and tournament fees) so we decided to do a summer soccer camp and we have been doing it ever since. Long time Athletic Director and now retired Jeff Snyder is the one who gave me the go ahead to really take over the soccer program and to try to elevate it to a competitive level.
Now we have most of the girls not just at SJHS but at all local high school playing competitive soccer year round with their club teams, and it’s the reason why our league has become very competitive – both Hemet and SJHS have reached the CIF Finals in the past.”
Unlike the regular season, there’s much less structure at this camp. “Summer camp is mostly to give them time with the ball in different settings,” according to Guzman. “To get them familiar with our fields and the high school itself and our athletic facilities such as our Fitness Center (with all of the equipment donated by UCLA) and our world class weight room. Not much coaching going on but lots of fun. That is why we play indoor soccer, and tennis soccer. We let them play and have fun. But it really helps us coaches find out who is coming up to the high school.
SJHS is always looking for talent, but Guzman already sees potential for 2019: “What is interesting this year is that I have four freshman girls whose older sisters played for me!”
Guzman wishes to thank current SJHS Athletic Director Amanda Galliano and Principal Luke Smith for continuing to make this annual camp, and the soccer program in general, possible.
The Tigers will be back on the soccer field this winter. In the meantime, be sure to check out all your local sports each week in the Valley Chronicle.