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Coach of the Year: Soccer Hero Chris Tolles

JV Head Coach Russell Paluso, Head Coach Chris Tolles. and Assistant Coach Chris Churness (left to right) after UC wins the Division III CIF title.

JV Head Coach Russell Paluso, Head Coach Chris Tolles. and Assistant Coach Chris Churness (left to right) after UC wins the Division III CIF title.

courtesy of Chris Tolles

courtesy of Chris Tolles

JV Head Coach Russell Paluso, Head Coach Chris Tolles. and Assistant Coach Chris Churness (left to right) after UC wins the Division III CIF title.

Mina Orlic, Sports Editor

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A coach is not only someone who knows the sport, but someone who will challenge you, inspire you, and push you to succeed. The difference between a good coach and a great coach is monumental. A good coach will merely teach the players the game; a great coach will leave a lasting mark on their lives. This year, UC High welcomed “The Savior of UC High Soccer” Chris Tolles to the scene.

   Tolles is originally from New Jersey, played high school soccer, and then went on to briefly play Division III soccer at Hamilton College in upstate New York.

   His love of the game pushed him to become a great soccer coach. “I’ve always enjoyed the beauty of the sport as it is a free flowing sport — there are no stoppages or timeouts except for halftime and the final whistle. I enjoy working with young athletes and helping them develop and reach their goals,” stated Tolles.

  Though Tolles is a new coach here at UC High, he has vast coaching experience. He explained, “I started my coaching career at San Diego High in 2006. I spent seven years there with their Varsity Team. I spent three years at San Diego City College and three years as an assistant varsity coach with Scripps Ranch High, and eight seasons with Scripps Ranch Soccer Club.”    

    In his opinion, “…a coach needs to be a good motivator in order to get the most out of his players. A coach needs to be able to manage all the different personalities that make up the roster. A coach needs to be a leader as the players look up to him or her.” He further explained that coaches can always learn new tactics or techniques that they can incorporate into their own individual coaching styles.

   In just one short season, Tolles helped lead a determined team through a successful season. “I think going from not even making playoffs to taking home a CIF and League title speaks for itself. He gave the program a huge lift that will last for years to come,” said Senior George Kinshofer. Tolles added, “Winning a CIF title was an incredible feeling. I had lost in the finals three different times, so this time was a good feeling. However, all the credit goes to the players themselves and especially the seniors. The seniors led this team from beginning to end, and were not going to settle for anything less than a League championship and a CIF title. I was their third coach in four years, and I just wanted to make their last high school season as enjoyable as possible. Winning certainly makes everything more fun, but I think even if we hadn’t won it all, they would look back on this season as a successful and fun one.”

   There are many different approaches to coaching. Whereas some coaches might take a more aggressive approach, Tolles believes in being a “player’s” coach. He prefers to relate to his players on a personal level and to have a unique bond with each player. Tolles added, “I give a lot of trust to my players and value their opinion on and off the field.”

   “He would act more like a mentor than a coach and would treat us more or less as adults, not just players,” stated Sophomore Janek Myslinski. “He wouldn’t really yell at us, but when he did, it would be constructive, and it would change how everyone looked at a certain situation. He also respected that we had lives outside of soccer.”

   Kinshofer explained, “I would describe Coach as a character: someone that you could make fun of and he could make fun of you as well. He made soccer feel like a playground game again, yet at the same time brought an intensity that kept us performing.”

   Tolles had some wise words of advice for aspiring players: “Keep working. Work on those things that come easiest to you, but work even harder on those that are difficult. Always have the belief that someone is out there working harder than you. Always give maximum effort in everything you do on and off the field.”

    With one victorious season at UC High under his belt, Tolles is looking forward to making a lasting impact on the UC High Soccer Program. Tolles professed, “The administration provides a great atmosphere for the players to succeed on and off the field. Everyone was extremely helpful this year as it was my first year. I look forward to working with the other coaches and administration in the years to come.”

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Coach of the Year: Soccer Hero Chris Tolles