November 10, 2017

From Uruguay to Golda Och: The Story of Soccer Coach Juan Pintado

Josh Kalet ‘19

GOA boys soccer coach Juan Pintado pulls into the school parking lot in his small green car at 3:40 p.m. Practice for the boys soccer team starts in 20 minutes, and Coach Juan – or “Coach,” as his players affectionately call him – has come to school to pick up all the equipment in preparation for the practice. It is the first day of school and just a day before the team’s first game.
Pintado grew up in Uruguay during the 1960s. He always dreamed of playing soccer and fell in love with the game at a young age.
“We used to have a gravel field at our school,” Pintado said of his time playing soccer as a kid. “We didn't even have goals. We would just put two stones on the field as goal posts.”
Pintado started playing during a time when the game of soccer was a dirty sport.
“Uruguay’s team used to get in trouble for playing dirty,” Pintado said. “They used to hook players’ jerseys to the goal post during corner kicks. It was a completely different game [from] today.”
Pintado came to the school 15 years ago. Since coming to the school, his coaching has brought the school success that it's never seen before. Under his coaching, the school has qualified for county and state Prep-B tournaments several times, and, in 2014, it won its first ever division title.
“The school always had the talent,” Pintado explained, “it was just about organizing [that] talent.”
The boys team has continued to have success this year, competing well within the division and making it to the second round of the 2017 NJSIAA North, Non-Public B Tournament. Despite being eliminated on November 3 by Montclair Kimberley, 8-2, Pintado continues to get his players to compete and bring pride to GOA.
The players always have something good to say about their coach.
“He’s my favorite coach I've ever played for,” said junior Aaron Lavitsky, a three-year player and starting defender for the team.
Aaron Pearlstein, a senior and starting goalie for the team, also gave high praise to his coach.
“He's a coach that you want to play for.”

Pintado has brought a great knowledge and passion for the game of soccer to the GOA team and has completely changed the culture of the sport within the school – and it all started on that gravel “field” in Uruguay.


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