FOOTBALL: Head Coach Juan Navarro looks to establish a new attitude and effort to revive Monarchs football program.
Byline: Kevin Buckles Jr., Sports Editor
After a search that lasted six months, Valley College hired former Pierce College Defensive Coordinator Juan Navarro in July as the new head football coach.
Navarro’s hiring marks the third different head coach in the last three years for Valley. Coaching the Monarchs will be his first head coaching job at the age of 34; he is inheriting a 4-6 Valley team that he has only been able to become acclimated with just two months before the start of the season.
“Ideally, we’d like to have a guy here in January, but it didn’t work out that way,” said Valley Athletic Director, Jim Fenwick. “We’re trying to teach as fast as we can and move along.”
Navarro, an Arleta, CA native, brings over a decade of coaching experience to the Monarch program. His stints include coaching the defensive line and linebackers at his Alma mater, the University of Redlands. He was also a volunteer assistant to the coaching staff at the University of Miami (FL), and most recently prior to Pierce, coaching the defensive line and linebackers at Florida International University.
Despite never being a head coach before, he still brings a copious amount of knowledge of the game to Valley’s program. But it’s character and mindset that Coach values over ‘X’s and ‘O’s.
“It’s always very important to understand the Junior College kid and why maybe they weren’t able to attend a four-year school immediately out of high school, if talented,” said Navarro. “My job is to really establish a mentality and then magnify their athletic ability.”
Navarro stressed that the product the players put out on the field will only reflect the type of attitude that is enforced from himself and his staff to help establish and evolve the characters of his guys.
“The goal period is to develop,” said Navarro. “Develop them mentally, athletically, and find more ways to develop them academically. Our job is to challenge them consistently and force them to respond with great character.”
The fire and excitement that Navarro has brought to the Valley football program this summer is very welcoming and refreshing to Fenwick, who is also the offensive coordinator for the team.
“We feel like he was the best fit for Valley College,” said Fenwick. “We really enjoy his energy and passion for the kids and helping the kids get through school and to the next level.”
The Monarch players have also taken well to Navarro’s regime, citing his tough, hard-nosed coaching, as well as his previous coaching at universities as a major benefit for the team going forward.
“He knows what he’s doing and is strict, but in the most positive way,” said defensive tackle Billy Arnold. “He’s bringing a university level experience down to a junior college level and that alone, especially in our league, can change this program dramatically.”
In just a short amount of time, Coach Navarro instilled a message and motto to his team with the expectation that it translates to individual and team success.
“Be an ACE, that’s our motto,” said Navarro. “Being an ACE and having an ACE mentality is to have a positive attitude, great character, and relentless effort. That’s what we want to establish.”