Reaching the top and the struggle behind it


Men’s soccer head coach Benny Artiaga was awarded National Coach of the Year Jan. 21 in Philadelphia by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

Sebastian Echeverry, Managing/ News Editor

Men’s soccer Head Coach Benny Artiaga was awarded National Coach of the Year Jan. 21 in Philadelphia by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
The human race has always tried to find the pinnacle of their being, the highest form of who they are.
Whether that pinnacle is to be the top hunter in the tribe, or the greatest business tycoon of the 21 century.
Artiaga reached that goal Friday Jan. 16 and his team took the State championship on Dec. 7 last year.
“I don’t think too many people realize how much your family sacrifices, so within that I spent the entire year with a really bad sciatic nerve that Maria Castro always had to be patching me up just so I could get out there and coach,” Artiaga said.
Aside from the physical injury, Artiaga said he was at a point in his marriage where he and his spouse were thinking if they were going to stay married or not.
“So basically a big part of that season, I was a single father, well single in the sense that I had my son Landon at the time,” Artiaga said.
Having to watch his boy, Landon was at the fields day-in day-out with his father, sometimes at six in the morning on Sundays so his father could coach the Cerritos College soccer team.
“He literally was like part of this family, all my players know him, he loves all my players,” Artiaga said.
The thing about head coach, he said, is that he could not show his players what was going on in his personal life.
Since the birth of his son, Artiaga was starting to get skeptical thoughts about not winning a state championship because he hadn’t.
He began to come to the conclusion that by having a son, a family, it would take away from the soccer success.
“The struggle is finding a balance, I would quit yesterday, if coaching meant I would become a bad father and at the same time I can’t disregard my Cerritos family because you promise them goals, you promise them aspirations and you promised them success,” Artiaga said.
That is where Artiaga found the real nectar of his accomplishment, to have his son wrapped in blankets at early and muddy practice days and winning the state championship.
“To have my son at the state final, to have him dressed like me at the banquet, dressed in the same suit as me it just made it so rewarding,” he said.
Artiaga said he finally broke his demons, that having his son with him every step of the way made every sacrifice worth the blood, sweat and tears.
“My son will know that his dad tried to play professionally, his dad played collegially, his dad coached college, that his dad won a state championship and that his dad reached the pinnacle of his career, no one will take that from him,” he said.
The head coach mentioned that what helped ease some of the issues was the internal leadership throughout the team’s players and how that leadership crushed any internal issues before he had to step in.
Captain Ricardo Covorubias first met Artiaga while he was in high school.
“He came out to watch me play a playoff game,” Ricardo said.
For two years, Artiaga coached Covarrubias.
“Benny is a great guy, a great coach and he is someone I look up to,” he said.
Commandeering the team alongside Covarrubias was Jose Ochoa.
Ochoa remembers the struggle the team went through when the Falcons found themselves fourth in Conference.
“The team just wasn’t there, we thought we weren’t going to make it anymore and that was when Benny talked to us and we changed everything and we agreed,” he said.
Whether it was soccer, school or life players like Ochoa could approach Artiaga and he would counsel them.