Illustration by Grace O’Keefe
The Berkeley High School (BHS) girls soccer season got off to a tumultuous beginning this year, as Coach David Villalobos resigned shortly before tryouts for the 2018-19 season were scheduled to start, and a new coach was named on the first day of tryouts. Villalobos, who served as head coach of the BHS girls soccer program for four years, was replaced by Alejandro Mendoza, the team’s longtime assistant coach.
Villalobos’ resignation came as a surprise to some members of the team, who found out about two weeks before the start of tryouts that Villalobos was not coming back. However, despite the confusion in the time leading up to tryouts, the team remained optimistic about the upcoming season. “The team is excited to work hard and do well this season,” said junior Sofia Brown.Throughout Villalobos’ time as head coach, players had concerns about his coaching style. Players who graduated in the past three years outlined these concerns in a letter sent to BHS athletic director Britta Fjelstrom and principal Erin Schweng at the beginning of this school year. According to people who wrote the letter, it describes specific issues players had with comments Villalobos made to individual players, his overall communication and organization, and his handling of injuries. In a statement to the Jacket, Fjelstrom said that Villalobos stepped down for personal reasons and that the letter had nothing to do with his resignation. Villalobos did not respond to a request for comment on the letter, his resignation, or his time coaching at BHS.
On the first day of tryouts the team found out via an email from Fjelstrom that Mendoza would be their head coach this season. In the email, Fjelstrom said that she “would like to thank Coach Villalobos for his dedication and commitment to Berkeley High and the sport of Girls Soccer,” and that she is excited for Mendoza to take on this new role. Mendoza began his tenure at BHS as coach of the girls Frosh team four years ago. During that time, he was also a volunteer assistant coach for the JV and Varsity teams.
The question of assistant coaches remains unclear as Mendoza is currently coaching the Frosh, JV, and Varsity girls teams. Fjelstrom said that she is hoping to find some assistant coaches for the team, but did not specify when that would happen.
Despite the last minute change in coaching, the team and Mendoza are looking forward to the upcoming season. “I am really excited about heading the women’s program at this school,” said Mendoza. “The community here is unlike any other. I feel like I will be able to lead and empower these soccer players to find team and personal success on and off the field.”