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Youth Girls Mar 14, 2012

A trifecta of honors for Va. youth coach Joseph Apodaca

By Jimmy LaRoue

Without much fanfare, Virginia coach Joseph Apodaca has put his heart and soul into instructing Prince William Soccer’s Courage 93 Red Girls team, which has been an under-the-radar success story.

But in recent months, Apodaca, affectionately known as “Coach A,” has received a trifecta of honors, the latest coming as he was named U.S. Youth Soccer’s Competitive Girls Coach of the Year last month at the USYS’s Awards Gala held in conjunction with the 2012 USYS Workshop in Boston.

A Manassas, Va. resident, Apodaca previously earned the same honors from the Virginia Youth Soccer Association, and soon after that, from U.S. Youth Soccer’s Region 1, which stretches from West Virginia to Maine.

At the time, Apodaca said he was speechless at having earned the well-deserved accolades. No doubt he had similar feelings after his latest honor.

Coaching since age 14, Apodaca came to PWSI in 2004, with players finding success at the club, collegiate and Olympic Development Program levels. He holds a USSF “A” license.

He may be a part-time coach, but he fully has his players’ development at the forefront, fighting against “robotic, mechanical soccer.” He credits his wife with allowing him to do something he loves.

“I fell in love with coaching because that’s what I wanted to do, and people recognized it,” Apodaca told Potomac Soccer Wire in an interview after receiving the Region 1 honor. “My wife [Benedickte] is a saint. She recognized that [coaching] made me happy and was something I wanted to do, and she supported it 100 percent. She’s never complained, she’s never said, ‘Hey, this Saturday let’s do your honey-do list.’ She’s been really good to me about it.”

He came to PWSI as it was near where he lived, and he credits PWSI’s technical director of coaching Ken Krieger with giving him the opportunity to coach, starting out with a couple of the rec teams and building up from there.

Apodaca got into coaching after a stint in the Marine Corps, having served in both Gulf Wars.

“I just made the decision that I wanted to dedicate myself to something productive and apply it towards young kids,” Apodaca said. “One of my experiences in Iraq dealt with some children and being in a war zone, you really recognize just how much hope these kids have, and yet so many are going to be left behind.

“The tragedy of war – in a way it makes you sick but in a way it makes you say, I’ve got to do something. I wanted to do something that allowed me to help any kid regardless of socioeconomic background.”

What does Apodaca have planned next? To continue coaching, of course. He has most of his current team graduating and is seeking out a new challenge.

“I’m hoping to take on a new team,” Apodaca said. “You never know. I would like to continue to coach until I can no longer coach. It energizes me. It’s therapeutic in many ways. I look back at the traumatic things you see in a war zone and it gives me a belief that I am making a difference and helping kids of all socioeconomic levels, and those kids that have a passion for the game.”

[ +Check out Potomac Soccer Wire’s Q&A with Apodaca from December ]

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