With Stephen Reitburger, former head coach of the Varsity Boys Soccer Team, retiring after 38 dominant seasons, he leaves behind a legacy of greatness and an opportunity for the new head coach to step up and follow in his footsteps. Austin Alvarado, who was the assistant coach at West Orange High School, has accepted the challenge and is excited to work with a group that he says has “an amazing amount of potential.” While transferring schools and inheriting a new team of athletes can be challenging for some, it doesn’t seem to be problematic for Coach Alvarado. He attributes the ease of his transition to his widespread positive attitude and ability to build trust and camaraderie among the team.
One way he strengthens the bond with his players is through their journal writing, providing Coach Alvarado insight into his squad on a more personal level. These journal entries are not meant to be a burdensome school assignment, but rather to enable him to learn about and have friendly discussions with his players, easing any tension or nerves, and contributing to their fluid play. Coach Alvarado’s goal isn’t to just have his players maximize their potential during a game, but in life as well. He wants to show his team that he’s not only their coach and mentor, but also their friend who will motivate and encourage them to give their best on and off the field. This idea of something being seemingly tedious, like writing in a journal, according to Coach Alvarado, could have such a large impact on someone’s life and mirrors his motto of “it means more.” The boys soccer team’s ability to “trust in me,” Alvarado said, has “allowed us all, as a program, to really turn the page in a healthy way,” hence their 7-7-1 record.
The Varsity Boys Soccer Team kicked off their season just a day after school started in an, what Matthew Whitney, four-year senior player, called it, “eye opening” and personal matchup with West Orange, Coach Alvarado’s former school. With only one goal scored in the entire game and coming in the second half, Glen Ridge came out victorious with their first win of the season. However, there was little time to celebrate because their next game, just two days later, was against Seton Hall Prep, the #3 ranked team in the state. Despite losing 3-0, the team rebounded thanks to Coach Alvarado’s advice of “trust[ing] the process and operat[ing] with gratitude” by winning the next three games, propelling them to an intimidating record of 4-1.
However, these wins were not lucky by any means; Glen Ridge won in style. They dominated Cedar Grove 3-1, fought hard to overcome Nutley 2-1, and upset Montclair, the #2 team in the state, after scoring in overtime from a penalty kick.
“It was an incredible feeling and I’ve never felt more accomplished honestly in a soccer game,” is how Matthew Whitney described the sensation of defeating their opponent for the first time in seven years. Instead of cowering or shying away from teams like Millburn, Seton Hall Prep, or Montclair, all of which are state ranked, the boys have rallied through their “genuine desire to improve” and accepted that their process works as long as they do their jobs and most importantly, have fun.
Led by senior co-captains Grant Conte and Gavin Robertson, the Glen Ridge Varsity Soccer Team has a “no prisoners mentality,” as Matthew Whitney put it. However with “no off days,” contributing to their rigorous season, the players are still required to practice with their team and on their own time in between those days before their next match. Coach Alvarado hopes to teach his players that “there’s no ordinary moments,” meaning that no one day has more or less significance than others. Being able to give 100% effort everyday, regardless of it being a practice or game, on or off the field, “work[s] wonders” which can be seen through the team’s unity, trust, and dominant performances. The Glen Ridge Boys Varsity Soccer Team has learned and successfully utilized the philosophy of accepting every day as is and “mak[ing] today special.” With the team’s determined mentality, reinvigorated sense of brotherhood, and talented coach, only a state championship is left to top off their developing memorable season.