A local… Sports note

compiled from an interview by Martha Vergara

Soccer or football is a passion in Latin American countries as it is in many other continents. For Oscar Vergara, the coach of Bishop Ludden College since 1976, a Catholic-private college in Syracuse soccer is his life. His coaching career is 42 years old. Most of these have been at Bishop Ludden but before that he was a coach at several schools since he began as an assistant at Corcoran High School. From a young age, Oscar spent all his free time playing with his friends in the paddocks or improvised courts of his native neighborhood, La Estación Villa in Medellín, Colombia.

Reminiscing with Oscar about his life as an immigrant in Syracuse where he has resided since 1971, he answered several questions:

How was your experience of emigrating to the United States?

I believe that for me the change of culture, language, and customs was very difficult. I was young and I came to a school where everything was different and there was not even a soccer team. I was eager for summer to come so I could find a team in the city where I could do with the ball what I could not do in any other way. The language limitation and the experience of being in a new world after having recently lost my mother in a traffic accident where a drunk driver killed her and left my brother badly injured were a difficult burden to bear. I saw soccer as my salvation.

As we asked him why soccer became his outpouring and therapy? He told us:

From a young age, a coach, Mr. Carlos Paz instilled in us the fervor for soccer and demanded that we play fair. He emphasized that we should not be tempted to use drugs or sell them. I grew up in difficult era in my city and where many of my colleagues ended up associated with the drug business. Thanks to his advice I got rid of that social whip. I owe him a lot of what I am and what I do as a coach because it is what I try to instill in my players.

In your work as a coach, what is your job?

The primary thing a coach can do is set a good example and insist that his players develop into good-natured people. Beyond the techniques of the selected sport, a team is a school for life!. By playing as a team you learn from each individual with whom you have contact directly or indirectly. Winning a game many times makes us feel proud, but it is at the end of the road where the greatest trophy that anyone can win is through the respect due to personal training and teamwork. In sports you win and you lose.

How has your trajectory been in this area?

It is true that you win and you lose but many times when you lose is when you receive the best lessons and we benefit from learning. In the moments of losing, it is when motives are evaluated and it is when we can modify or make the necessary changes not to make the same mistake. In soccer, it is very important to be humble and even if you gain the greatest satisfaction you feel, I can also say that I have learned a lot from the losses.

In the newspapers we learned that your team this year made it to the quarterfinals of the State Championship representing Region III of New York in class C. Also, you received a recognition like Coach of the Year of the League in the Section III and New York State Coach of the Year for Private and Parochial Schools. We want to hear from you how this recognition makes you feel?

First of all you have to understand that one is as good a coach as the players do. If the work is done well in practice where all the technical areas are covered, in the match played it is known how to direct the player on the court. These recognitions are the result of the work of the players who have accepted how much or little they can be taught and instilled during the season. I also think that we have to give credit to the coaches of other teams that in the sporting rivalry motivate one and the players to improve the game and this is how often it ends up winning. Responding to the question of how this recognition makes me feel, I can say that: It makes me feel humble but proud to be the first Latino in Region III to receive this recognition for the third time in my coaching career. For me it is gratifying to have the opportunity to be a coach and to be allowed to spend not only the knowledge of soccer but the passion I feel for this sport is the best prize. Performing in this sport and in the team may be for many the road to success in their university career and in the distant future

As a coach, what is the best lesson you think you should leave your players?

In the last fifteen years, the players of Bishop Ludden, have participated in a service to the community that for me is an integral part of training them. The service to the communities for me the best that an athlete can give of himself. Through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program of PEACE Inc. and of which I am Managing Director, players during the school year are assigned as mentors to a group of elementary school children. This year, players weekly meet with the children of Most Holy Rosary for an hour and a half every Monday. During these visits of the children who are transported to Bishop Ludden, the Big Brothers help the children with their homework, and form friendly bonds that last for a long time. This is a way for players to get involved in community service and help the personal training of both groups.

What are the benefits of this type of mentoring project for the players and the children of the participating schools?

How has your trajectory been in this area?

It is true that you win and you lose but many times when you lose is when you receive the best lessons and we benefit from learning. In the moments of losing, it is when motives are evaluated and it is when we can modify or make the necessary changes not to make the same mistake. In soccer, it is very important to be humble and even if you gain the greatest satisfaction you feel, I can also say that I have learned a lot from the losses.

In the newspapers we learned that your team this year made it to the quarterfinals of the State Championship representing Region III of New York in class C. Also, you received a recognition like Coach of the Year of the League in the Section III and New York State Coach of the Year for Private and Parochial Schools. We want to hear from you how this recognition makes you feel?

First of all you have to understand that one is as good a coach as the players do. If the work is done well in practice where all the technical areas are covered, in the match played it is known how to direct the player on the court. These recognitions are the result of the work of the players who have accepted how much or little they can be taught and instilled during the season. I also think that we have to give credit to the coaches of other teams that in the sporting rivalry motivate one and the players to improve the game and this is how often it ends up winning. Responding to the question of how this recognition makes me feel, I can say that: It makes me feel humble but proud to be the first Latino in Region III to receive this recognition for the third time in my coaching career. For me it is gratifying to have the opportunity to be a coach and to be allowed to spend not only the knowledge of soccer but the passion I feel for this sport is the best prize. Performing in this sport and in the team may be for many the road to success in their university career and in the distant future

As a coach, what is the best lesson you think you should leave your players?

In the last fifteen years, the players of Bishop Ludden, have participated in a service to the community that for me is an integral part of training them. The service to the communities for me the best that an athlete can give of himself. Through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program of PEACE Inc. and of which I am Managing Director, players during the school year are assigned as mentors to a group of elementary school children. This year, players weekly meet with the children of Most Holy Rosary for an hour and a half every Monday. During these visits of the children who are transported to Bishop Ludden, the Big Brothers help the children with their homework, and form friendly bonds that last for a long time. This is a way for players to get involved in community service and help the personal training of both groups.

What are the benefits of this type of mentoring project for the players and the children of the participating schools?

The opportunity to serve as a mentor / older sibling / friend where personal experience with a child is shared allows for the personal development of both. In the rebirth of a friendship, the participants have the opportunity to serve. It is in the daily life where the skills developed in these exchanges are life lessons. Mentors take pride in being an example to a child who looks at them with admiration and this leads them to be and give their best. For the little ones it is a stimulus and the beginning of the formation of a dream of what they want to project when they are great. After seeing results from this experience, Big Brothers Big Sisters had the opportunity to replicate the Project, starting with the Syracuse City School District SCSD, bringing the program to seven elementary schools and high school mentors. Today the school-based Big Brothers Big Sisters program extends to the school districts of Central Square and North Syracuse.

What plans do you have with your team for the future?

The number of young people I have seen grow up multiplied by the years that I have been involved in this passion that is my life. I have seen my players grow, arriving today to have on the team children of my first pupils. I have also seen how players have grown up in the sport and today they are coaches in other schools and where I hope they apply the rules that they learned from me and adhere to the philosophy I have always preached Sportsmanship and Fair Play (Good Conduct and Fair Play)

What about the team?

As long as my God permits, I want to train and enjoy a little more.

Comments are closed.