Lake Tahoe Community College’s new soccer program won’t be in full swing until August, but women’s head coach Christian DeLeon is already speaking with potential players.
Recruiting, however, will be only one of many challenges that the college has to face over the next several months, DeLeon said.
“Right now, we’re just jumping into the deep end of the pool and playing it by ear …” he said. “This is a learning process for everyone.”
DeLeon, a member of the South Lake Tahoe community since 2000, coached both boys and girls soccer at South Tahoe High School for several years before he was hired at LTCC.
During his career, he’s been named NSCAA’s Coach of the Year twice and has won multiple state championships. He hopes to apply the same winning style of coaching when he starts at the college level.
“I’m definitely a players’ coach,” he said Wednesday. “By that I mean I adapt to the way the kids learn.”
But DeLeon also hopes to bring consistency to the program — not only on the field, but in the classroom as well, he said. His goal is to help students become better athletes and learners as they prepare to transfer to a four-year college.
“This is a good thing,” he said of the program. “Not just for the community and college, but just giving another option for kids everywhere.”
However, the community’s support will be vital to the growth of the soccer program, DeLeon said. The coach doesn’t foresee the team having a huge budget to work with, so fundraising efforts will be crucial.
Other challenges will be adapting to game scheduling at the college level and adhering to the various rules and regulations associated with a new conference, he said.
But helping them with these challenges will be Benjamin Wade, former Lassen Community College soccer coach and new LTCC mens soccer coach.
Sue Saia, dean of student services, said the combination of DeLeon and Wade is the best option for the college’s new program.
“Their individual strengths and experiences will provide the program with a solid foundation and the diversity needed for success,” she stated in a press release.
DeLeon said he’s excited for the opportunity.
“I’m glad that (the administrators) were able to see our vision,” he said, “and hopefully we make this a great program.”