Last year former Ramona High School girls soccer coach Michael Jordan took over as the Bulldogs’ boys varsity coach. This year Tom Charbonneau transitions from the boys program to the girls team.
Charbonneau, who spent the last four seasons as Ramona’s boys junior varsity coach, is the new girls varsity head coach. He replaces George Garcia, who chose to cut back his coaching.
“I’m excited I got the opportunity,” Charbonneau said. “We have a good group of girls coming in this year.”
Charbonneau is no stranger to Ramona’s girls program. He is also a coach for Ramona Intra, coaching the under-12 girls travel team and serving as an assistant coach for the girls under-15 club team. “I know a lot of them coming in already,” he said.
Although Charbonneau had few opportunities to play soccer while growing up in Phoenix, he began playing when he was in his twenties. He moved to Ramona for the first time in 1988 and more recently time in 1995, when he started coaching youth soccer. His oldest son whose team he coached is now a senior at Ramona High School.
Charbonneau’s next-oldest son is a sophomore, the only drawback to taking over as the girls coach.
“I had hoped to coach JV boys one more year,” he said.
Charbonneau expected Garcia to remain as Ramona’s girls coach for the 2009-10 season, but when Garcia decided to step down Charbonneau applied for the job. Charbonneau’s long-term plans included coaching girls soccer at Ramona High School as his club players transitioned into high school competition.
Charbonneau has four children, including a daughter in sixth grade and a son in fifth grade. All of his children have played youth soccer in Ramona.
Charbonneau is what is known as a walk-on coach (as opposed to a campus faculty member). He has a distributorship for Little Debbie.
Charbonneau’s high school varsity coaching career began Nov. 14 with tryouts. Tryouts continued Nov. 16-19, and the first day of practice was Nov. 20.
The tryouts saw 50 girls seek berths on the varsity, junior varsity and freshmen teams. One of those girls was not happy with her assignment to the junior varsity and quit, so the varsity and junior varsity teams have 18 girls apiece and the freshman squad has 13 girls.
“I had hoped for a little bit more, especially at the freshman level,” Charbonneau said.
One freshman earned a spot on the varsity squad.
“The 14 that we did have, I was very pleased with,” said Charbonneau. “There’s a lot of talent.”
The varsity also includes three returning sophomores who played at the varsity level as freshmen last year, six juniors, and eight seniors. Eleven players from last year’s varsity team return for the 2009-10 season.
“We’ve got some really strong leadership in our seniors, some great returning players and some very talented new players,” Charbonneau said. “We expect to be playing an aggressive style of soccer.”
Charbonneau is not sure what formation he will be using, since that decision will be based on the strengths of his players.
Ramona’s first game, if weather permits, will be at Escondido on Dec. 7.
“We had talked about doing tournaments but felt that we needed a little more time together,” Charbonneau said.
The only tournament on Ramona’s 2009-10 schedule is the Vaqueros Tournament, which will begin Dec. 19 and also see Dec. 21 and Dec. 22 games. Ramona’s girls will play in the tournament the morning of Dec. 19, and that evening the annual varsity-alumni doubleheader, which also includes the boys program, will be played in Ramona.
The Bulldogs are scheduled to start their season with three games on consecutive days. Barring a weather cancelation, Ramona’s home opener will take place Dec. 8 against El Cajon and the Bulldogs will travel to Calexico for a Dec. 9 match.
“We have a busy week next week for us,” Charbonneau said.
The entire girls coaching staff is new for 2009-10. Justin Jordan (no relation to the boys coach) will be Charbonneau’s varsity assistant, Deena Vizcarra will coach the junior varsity team, and Gregg Lucas will be the freshman coach.
“The girls seem to be very up-tempo,” Charbonneau said. “I’m very excited about it.”