The lady Demon soccer team has welcomed a new face to the program, Jonathan Berzins. Berzins was named the head coach this past fall and has already made a significant impact on the teams success this season. Taking on a head coaching position is very challenging, however Berzins has made it look easy. The team has already won four pre-season games and with a new energy from the coaching staff, they are hungry for more victories.
Berzins lived in Phoenix prior to moving to Durango. He has played his entire life, including at South Mountain College in Arizona. He won the 2011-12 Arizona Division I State Championship at Highland High School, and also coached the Chandler-Gilbert Community College men’s and women’s soccer programs. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Berzins has been the director of soccer operations for the Arizona Arsenal Soccer Club since 2004.
“Soccer has been a part of my life forever. I’m extremely passionate about it. It taught me and got me to where I’m at now. I want to give that back and hopefully give that same catalyst to players and help them be successful,” said Berzins.
Berzins, his wife, and two kids moved to Durango in August of 2017. He took a position as the compliance coordinator at Fort Lewis and the high school coaching position was a pleasant surprise for him.
“When I found out their was a coaching position at the highschool I was very excited. I love coaching high school. It was the cherry on top to be a part of the community that I’m raising my kids in,” said Berzins.
Unfortunately, the lady demons did not fulfill their hopes of making it to the 2nd round of playoffs last year. They had an upsetting first playoff game, losing 11-0. After a discouraging season last year, the players were very happy to hear that Berzins was there new coach.
“I really like JB. When I first met him he was a little intimidating and serious but I think we really needed that for our team. We needed someone that was going to push us and take everything we do seriously. It’s obvious he knows what he’s doing. Everyone on the team has mad respect for him just because of how intelligent he is,” said Sr. Charlotte Hale. Not only are the girls excited and ready for the season, but Berzins is too. He is extremely passionate about the game and loves sharing his knowledge with players.
Durango is unlike any town he has coached in before, so there were some things he had to get used to; one of the biggest things being the cold weather. For the first three weeks of the season, the team had to practice inside the gym due to snow on the field. Berzins didn’t let this affect the team and still has very high hopes for the season.
“The challenging thing about being new is learning how systems work. Coming from a major metropolitan city to a smaller community is hard. Coaching styles and how you run your program have to very. But I love the excitement and being able to run a program is a really cool thing to be a part of. I’m very excited for this season,” said Berzins.
The DHS is also set apart because of how close they are. Everyone knows each other very well and have been playing together since elementary school. With such a strong chemistry on and off the field, bringing an unfamiliar face to the program was a little challenging, but nothing the girls couldn’t handle.
“It was a little interesting at first just because we had no clue who JB was and didn’t really know anything about him. But we all warmed up to him pretty fast. I think he definitely stands out from most coaches I’ve had. He’s so dedicated to the sport and it shows when we play. He is hard on us, but in a good way. The season just started and I think were already 10x better than last year,”said So. Maddy McManus.
There is no doubt that the lady demons have a tremendous amount of talent on the team. The players have high expectations for the season and hope to achieve their personal goals. Nine players will be graduating this year, so the seniors want to leave everything they have on the field. Berzins hopes to give everyone a full and memorable experience.
“Because I’m new, I don’t really have a specific goal for this season. Success to me is getting better everyday. I just want us to learn, grow, and enjoy each other. For most of us, this is to the tail end of our careers so I want to make sure everyone can make memories that they will take with them throughout their lives,” said Berzins.
Being a new face in a tight knit community is very challenging and comes with a lot of pressure. It is not easy to please everyone and create relationships. However, Jonathan Berzins has done just that. The lady Demons soccer team is more than happy to have him leading their season and are excited to see what they can accomplish.