SELMA - The Selma girls soccer team have a new head coach this season, but he is no stranger to the Bears’ sideline.
Luis Zamora, who served as an assistant coach at Selma High for the past three years, began his first season as a head coach at the same school he graduated from.
“I went on to play college ball and ever since I went to play, I always thought I’ll come back home and coach and help out the community,” Zamora said. “[I want to] help out the high school I played at.”
Zamora graduated from Selma High in 2008 and went on to play at Iowa Wesleyan University, which is currently an NCAA Division III program. When Zamora played, Iowa Wesleyan was a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) program.
When Zamora got the opportunity to coach on the same field he played at, it was a no brainer for him to come back home. He said coaching his youngest sister Irene Zamora was a factor in him taking a job as an assistant coach.
“When I came back three years ago as an opportunity to come, I went ahead and took it,” Luis Zamora said. “Especially since one of my youngest sister plays here and she’s a senior this year. So that’s kind of what brought me to the high school and coach here”
Luis Zamora’s coaching experience includes serving as the head coach at Burlington High School in Iowa. Zamora coached the girls soccer program at Burlington High for four years before returning to Selma.
The 2008 Selma High grad is also the cousin of the school’s boys soccer coach Ruben Zamora, who is also a former Bears player.
“He’s a hard worker and he’s been wanting to get that job for awhile,” Ruben Zamora said. “I think he deserves it and I think he’s going to do a really good job. The way he runs practices, the way he’s taking control is phenomenal. I think he’s going to be really good. I’m excited how he does in league, I think he’s going to make a big difference.”
In his first year as a head coach at Selma, Luis Zamora inherited a team with majority of returners, but some of its departures played core positions that made an impact last season.
The Bears lost last year’s goalie Lucy Chavez to graduation and Luis Zamora admitted she’ll be hard to replace.
“In my opinion that’s going to be the biggest shoes to fill,” he said. “She was a great shot stopper, a great leader back there and just kept everybody organized at the back line.”
Notable returners this year include Leslie Sosa, Julie Acves, Irene Zamora, and Leslie Figueroa, who was moved up to varsity last year before the Bears final league game last season.
Luis Zamora said he expects Irene Zamora and Figueroa to be two of the team’s leading scorers this season and having them on the field together could also open up scoring opportunities for other players.
Figueroa and Irene Zamora both said they could find ways to complement each other and teammates when attacking opposing backlines.
“We could work together, just communicate with each other,” Figueroa said, “and figure out ways to help each other score.”
“I think it’s going to help to have someone else in front that’s quick and good on the ball as well,” Irene Zamora.
Last season, Selma went 12-9-1 overall and 5-4-1 in Central Sequoia League play, which was good enough for the Bears to earn a No. 13 seed in the CIF Central Section Division III playoffs. Selma’s playoff run was cut short with a 4-1 overtime loss to No. 4 Reedley.
If Selma wants to make another playoff run, the Bears will have do so without an unofficial home game. John Ventura Stadium at Washington Union High School will serve as the home venue for the Bears due to the construction and renovations of Selma High’s Staley Stadium.
“It’s unfortunate that we won’t have that home field advantage, but in the long run it’s going to be benefit us” Luis Zamora said. “We’re going to be have a new stadium to play on and a great facility. It is unfortunate, but I think we’ll adjust well. I know most of the parents and I know they’ll be supportive no matter where our home games are. They’ll travel well and be supporting us.”
Selma started its season at 5-1-1 including going undefeated at the Kamansky Classic at Roosevelt High School on Nov. 30-Dec. 1. The Bears placed first at the tourney after a 4-1 victory over Hanford West in the championship game.
After, Selma defeated Washington Union 4-3 in a road game on Monday, Dec. 3. The Bears suffered its first lost of the season in a 8-0 defeat to Reedley High on Dec. 5, but the girls got back on track with a 6-4 victory over Fresno two days later.
Selma started CSL play against Central Valley Christian on Tuesday (after press time), but will continue league play against Dinuba at Washington Union on Dec. 17.