Officially, this is Roberto Magellan’s first season as Los Altos High’s varsity boys soccer coach. But technically, he also held the job 20 years ago – albeit briefly.
In 1999, Magellan took over for Vava Marques for three weeks when he went out of town. This time, he’s replacing Marques on a permanent basis. After 21 years as coach, Marques resigned in October; Magellan was hired this month.
Magellan, a longtime club coach, also served as Los Altos’ varsity girls soccer coach for three seasons more than a decade ago. He led the Eagles to an SCVAL El Camino Division title and two Central Coast Section playoff berths before stepping down in 2005 when he became regional manager for Kidz Love Soccer.
Magellan, who hasn’t coached high school soccer since, is happy to be back at Los Altos.
“I’m excited, definitely,” the Palo Alto resident said prior to holding tryouts Thursday. “My passion continues to be the same.”
Magellan found out about the vacancy from a player he coaches at the Palo Alto Soccer Club.
“He goes to Los Altos and arrived at practice one day and told me, ‘We just lost our coach; will you coach us?’” Magellan said. “I took that to heart.”
Eagles athletic director Michelle Noeth is glad he did.
“We are looking forward to having him join the Los Altos athletic department,” she said early last week.
Magellan – a substitute teacher at two private schools in the area – stressed that winning isn’t everything to him.
“I’m just there to help the kids enjoy themselves,” he said. “If we win CCS, like the kids wish, or win league, that’s fine. If they enjoy themselves and are good citizens, that comes first.”
Expect the Eagles to play a style similar to what they employed under Marques, with an emphasis on technical skills. Both coaches grew up playing the game in Brazil and have played and coached together.
“We’ve learned from each other,” Magellan said. “Vava coached my son (in club), and he was the best coach my son has ever had.”
Marques, executive director of the Stanford Soccer Club, was hired as Gunn High’s varsity boys coach the week after he told Los Altos principal Wynne Satterwhite he wasn’t returning.
“It was a really hard decision,” Marques said of leaving. “My daughter and niece go to Los Altos. I love the school, the parents and the kids. It was not an easy thing to do.”
So why did he do it?
Although Marques said, “I don’t want to get into the negative stuff,” he clearly hasn’t forgotten the administration’s decision to withhold the team’s playoff application last season. The Eagles had enough points to make CCS, but Satterwhite and Noeth terminated their season after a player received a red card (ejection) in their league finale. It marked the third time a Los Altos player had been ejected that season.
“I didn’t agree with not going to CCS, but I backed the school,” Marques said. “The last five years, we were the most disciplined team in the league. We pride ourselves on discipline.”
Marques added that he was “shocked” by the decision.
“It was made without talking to me,” he said. “I don’t blame the principal; I think she got some wrong information.”
After seeing a few other coaches leave Los Altos, Marques decided it was best for him to do the same.
“It was time to move on and start a new challenge,” he said. “But I still feel love for the soccer program at Los Altos. I had some awesome ADs in Kim (Cave) and Monica Lodge, and I respect the principal a lot.”