A coach worth remembering

When he first took over as the boys soccer coach at Pittsburg some 15 years ago, Mario Gonzalez had trouble just finding enough players to field a full team.

By the time he left the school last year, the Pirates had more than 80 players showing up for tryouts and were fielding varsity and junior varsity teams. They were also winners, having become annual playoff contenders after years of residing in the Bay Valley Athletic League cellar.

Paco Gonzalez, who started as an assistant under Mario in 1999 and took over for him as the Pirates’ head coach this season, plans to honor Mario before Pittsburg’s home game against Antioch on Jan. 23. Several former players are expected to show up to acknowledge their former coach.

"He gave (players) the confidence to have a lot of pride and play for their school," Paco Gonzalez said. "Little by little they gained a reputation, and each year they got stronger and stronger."

Check out the high school soccer notebook in today’s Times for more on boys and girls soccer.