Dons Head Coach Jose Vasquez saw through 17 consecutive Orange Empire Conference championships, starting when he was an assistant.
“The teams know we’ve built this legacy. Every year it’s out there for any body to take. The difference, I think, is we work harder for it,” Vasquez said.
Vasquez took over the program in 2004, after apprenticing for 11 years under coach J.P. Frutos. Vasquez learned the intricacies of coaching, but Frutos also taught him the value of creating
“Like in my situation, when I was here as a player I never put too much thought into that,” Vasquez said.
Vasquez has earned a reputation for working his teams hard. While preparing for the season, the team goes through grueling, twice a day training sessions that last at least three to four hours each.
“It’s a learning process through work on the field.”
But he’s earned his players respect because he endures the “Hell Months” with them.
“I get into the action because I feel I’m closer to the player. I know what they are going through as far as conditioning, when they get tired, and when they are not really working,” Vasquez said of his style.
Vasquez looks for three qualities in a player: conditioning, technique and intelligence.
“They need to understand how we want them to play, then we’ll be OK,” he said.
This season, the Dons are fielding 21 freshmen on a roster of 28. It is not an excuse to tank the season.
“We have sophomores with one year of experience. Most, though, are freshman right out of high school. We have a good balance. We like the sophomores to be the example and the role models for the freshmen coming in.”
In his first year as head coach Vasquez led the Dons to a 19-0-4 record, and the No. 1 spot in the final National Soccer Coaches Association of America/Adidas Junior College Division III Men’s Soccer national poll. The Dons were the only two-year college soccer team to finish the season undefeated.
Vasquez won the NSCAA’s West Region Coach of the Year as well as the National Coach of the Year.
“Being recognized as the Regional and then National Coach of the Year spoke a lot not about my work, but of the work from the years before me,” Vasquez said.
Vasquez led the Dons to repeat state titles in the 2004-05 seasons. He also played under Frutos for two seasons, from 1989 to 1990. He still owns three school records: fastest goal (10 seconds), hat tricks (4), and goals in a game (7).
“You need to have a killer instinct,” he said.