A group of 13-year-old soccer players swarms all over the field, laughing and kicking the ball around. They have been there since 5:00 pm, dutifully warming up for their 5:30 practice. When Coach Julio Martinez walks up, they eagerly surround him, ready to start practice.
For Coach Julio, coaching is more than just skills training. “We’re not here just for winning,” he explains. “We’re here for development, growing as a person, teaching values, and really investing in the future.” Despite his casual countenance, Julio’s team excelled in the fall 2017 season as the only West Dallas team in the PrimeTime Division II competitive league, with five victories under their belt. Their team is currently placed 3rd in the league among all of the greater Dallas area teams. Coach Julio’s team also won 1st place in their age group for a tournament hosted by soccer club Coppell Development Academy (CDA). “[Coach Julio’s team] is setting the tone for all our future competitive teams,” says Mike Rich, Mercy Street’s Soccer Coordinator. “Julio was the first coach to step up and say, ‘I want to be that coach.’”
With a three year history of coaching this team, Julio also sees it as an opportunity to serve as a mentor. “If I can help them shape their future or at least be there to empower and encourage them, I will,” he says. He sees his players as the “future doctors, lawyers, and construction workers” - allowing him to make an important and worthy investment in today’s generation.
One of the key elements in Julio’s unique role as a coach and mentor is his consistency. He explains that he spends three to four days (sometimes up to 22 hours) a week with his team, offering not only coaching but Christian leadership. “We kind of follow the ‘love your teammates’ verse, you know,” he laughs. “Before each game we do a prayer, very simple, but we ask for the other team to not get injured. ‘Lord, please help us get the victory, we’re gonna do our best and You do the rest.’” Mike Rich affirms the importance of consistency in coaching: “It works a whole lot better when coaches stick around for awhile and these kids have consistency in their lives. You see it affect the players, especially with these guys having Julio as their consistent coach - I think the team gels more and the guys know they can rely on him to be there day in and day out.”
Julio currently works in Dallas and is hoping to earn his teaching license and coaching license. His dream is to coach high school soccer, but right now he is content with his dedicated team of 6th and 7th graders: “They enjoy it, I enjoy it, planning lineups and everything that’s part of it – it’s always fun.”
Mercy Street is grateful to Coach Julio for his years of commitment and mentorship to our sports players, as well as to all of our coaches who make it possible for our soccer players to participate in the West Dallas Little League. We are currently seeking soccer and baseball coaches for the 2018 spring and fall seasons. Please visit www.mercystreetdallas.org/coaching to learn more or share the information with someone who may interested!