October's D.C. United Coaches Association Coach of the Month is Juan Estrada. Estrada coaches the Rookie Boys (grades 3/4) and Junior Varsity Girls (grades 5/6) at St. Pius X Regional School in Bowie, Md. Both teams compete in District II of Region I within the Archdiocese of Washington, DC.
Estrada, originally from Ecuador, began playing soccer as a young boy before moving to the United States. He played at Prince George's Community College before going on to play for the University of Maryland. Although he currently holds no licenses, his soccer career speaks for itself. He first became involved in coaching with the Sport-4-All program in Bowie, when his children were but six and four years old.
Most of his success as a coach comes from his hunger to learn all he can about the game.
"I believe in being a continuing student of the game to really understand it," said Estrada. "I never stop trying to learn more about the game by keeping up on soccer trends, watching the games on TV and in person, and by reading up on the sport and reviewing videos on how to coach youth soccer. I [also] participated in the D.C. United Coaches Association Clinic on August 31."
Many of his players are involved in other extracurricular activities, including Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts, the St. Pius school band and theater, as well as other sports. It is something that Estrada encourages his players to do to help them become more well-rounded.
Estrada holds to a simple coaching philosophy. His approach to coaching is driven by creating a fun, educational atmosphere where every player has the opportunity to participate in drills and scrimmages where playing the game is the focus. He takes a hands-on role in teaching his charges, working side-by-side with them instead of just barking from the outskirts.
What sets Estrada apart from other coaches is his dedication to the game. Through his work with Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., September was proclaimed Maryland Youth Soccer Month.
"There is more than winning and losing in this game," said Estrada. "What is really important is going back to the basics of how it is played and playing it fairly. We must help the player to develop emotionally, physically and morally. The focus on winning can get out of control. We do not want to breed shallow players, we want mature stewards of the game."
To nominate an individual for recognition as the D.C. United Coaches Association Coach of the Month, or to bring your team to a D.C. United match, log on to www.dcunited.com or call 202-587-5000.