While we take time to celebrate our student-athletes, we also enjoy celebrating the achievements of our amazing soccer coaching staff. This year, Coach Gilbert Villarreal, Head Boys Soccer Coach, was nominated and elected as President of the Texas Association of Soccer Coaches Organization. Congratulations Coach Villarreal! What an amazing opportunity to have our own Head Coach helping lead and shape the future of the sport of soccer in Texas. I had the privilege of spending some time with Coach Villarreal to learn more about his role as President, as well as his goals while serving in the position.
Question: For those that do not know a lot about TASCO, what exactly is it?
Coach Villarreal: TASCO is the Texas Association of Soccer Coaches Organization. It was formed in the early 1980s when UIL first sanctioned high school soccer as a sport. Many of the coaches that were coaching on the high school scene in Texas saw a need for a coaches association to collaborate. The goal since day one has been to help promote Texas high school soccer, help grow the sport of soccer amongst other schools and help the coaches through education and clinics. Finally, it’s to also help promote and reward our student-athletes, whether it’s scholarships they provide for students, regional awards for statewide players, all academic team awards. We really want to help promote our kids and stay involved with UIL to help influence decisions about our game. The organization has grown immensely over the years from a few hundred coaches to several thousand. We have about 1,000 attendees at our yearly clinic and convention in November. It’s been amazing watching the organization grow. I started a League Coach watching the clinics just trying to learn a little bit each time.
Question: How long have you been a member of TASCO?
Coach Villarreal: About 7 years.
Question: How did you come to find a position on the ballot for President of TASCO?
Coach Villarreal: I got involved 6 or 7 years ago as a regional representative. I’ve been happy and proud to serve on the board for 6 or 7 years now. When you first get involved, you’re just a “regional rookie”. You help pack bags and chase things down. You are basically a gopher in a lot of ways, learning what the association does. That’s a 3-year term. I re-upped and got involved again. Through the whole process, I enjoyed being able to network and collaborate with other coaches across the state while at the same time helping to grow the association. Some of the executive board that I had gotten to know over the years approached me and asked me if I had ever thought about running for President. They said they thought I’d be good at it. I was actually looking forward to a short break at that time but I decided to talk to my wife and my family. We discussed what would be involved and what a 3-year term commitment would look like. I decided to run for Vice President in 2019. I was convinced it would be good for me to continue pushing for some of the things that past Presidents had pursued. I decided to run and throw my name in the hat and was voted Vice President.
Question: How long is your term to serve as President of TASCO?
Coach Villarreal: It’s a 3-year term. Basically, I became the Vice President for one year, the next year you can run for President, and the third year, you are the Past President, in an advisory role.
Question: How has COVID-19 affected your position as President of TASCO?
Coach Villarreal: I picked one heck of a year to be the President! If I would have known all of this was going to happen, I’ll be real honest with you, I don’t know if I would have thrown my name in the hat. We are currently right in the midst of trying to plan, coordinate, and put together a virtual clinic that happened at Thanksgiving. My name is very much on this and I’m responsible for pulling it off and organize the convention. It’s something that we’ve never done before. Of course, it’s always been in-person. Trying to navigate that and put it together has been quite an experience, I’ll tell you that.
Question: With COVID-19 still upon us, what team do you have to help pull off this upcoming convention?
Coach Villarreal: We have a great webmaster, we have a great marketing guy. We have our website and plans to pull this off. Of course, we have certain fears of capacity and really what to expect in terms of attendance numbers. There’s the concern of will our servers be able to handle a large number of attendees, how are we actually going to present the content. A lot of it is going to be webinar-based and luckily, a lot of us have a lot of experience doing that now. (Pauses to chuckle). There’s a certain level of comfort with that. A lot of it is going to be live. When you throw out that word, it’s a little bit more nerve-racking.
Question: What are some of the goals that you have as President?
Coach Villarreal: That’s a great question. I credit this to Presidents that I’m lucky to still have on the board serving with me. At least 3, if not 4, executive board members that have been past Presidents are still on the board. To have them to bounce ideas off of and get a feel for what decisions need to be made is great. The goals coming in are about growing the organization and being a resource to all of our coaches. A lot of schools have a lot of districts that have continued to open up middle school programs. We reach out to them and work with them to get settled into their positions and help them understand the game because a lot of them are new to the sport. This goes back to our original mission which is to provide coaching education to high school coaches. We would like to continue to increase the number of members and provide these education services, whether it is through the convention or our online content or services. We continue to streamline and bring efficiency to our operations. As our website continues to grow, we continue to add services for coaches to provide assistance, as in locating high school coaching opportunities, work on their game schedules to post open dates. Over the years, our main event has been the convention. We have been in San Antonio for years. We have had it held at Blossom for many years. We had it at the convention center and actually held it at the Alamodome. For the past few several years, we’ve held it at Moody Gardens in Galveston which has been a great venue for us. We want to put on a good convention. When everything happened and we were monitoring what was going on with the pandemic, we realized with the pandemic, that we would have to take the event online. The broader long-term goals have been put on the shelf. We are trying to make it through the year and focus on the convention.
Coach Villarreal, thank you for taking the time to provide insight into TASCO and your role as President. It is admirable that you took on significant responsibility in addition to your role at Reagan High School to help shape the future of soccer in the state of Texas. Congratulations once again on your achievement and good luck in your upcoming soccer season.
Interview by Marty Sixkiller