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TimesLedger PSAL Coach of the Year: Louis Llull

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Louis Llull is not the 2001 TimesLedger PSAL Soccer Coach of the Year because he has the best strategy on corner kicks or has the perfectly executed offside trap. If that were the only criteria, then three or four others in the borough would have been awarded the honor.

Instead it is because every year Llull has to rebuild and in each of his two years at the helm, the Lions advanced to the city quarterfinals, only to lose to eventual champion Martin Luther King.

“Every year we have to start from scratch,” said Llull, who guided Newcomers to an 11-3-1 mark last year. “I may have three or four players from the previous year but most of the team I have to hand pick from tryouts.”

Unlike any other soccer program in the city, Llull has to look for new players every year because of the unique mission of the Long Island City school. Newcomers is designed for recent immigrants to get acclimated to high school in America.

Depending on their age when they enter the country, the students either stay at Newcomers for a year or leave for another city high school.

“What’s tough is that I’m grooming the younger players for another school,” Llull said. “That’s tough on a coach. All schools get to build a four-year program. It gets frustrating as a coach because you always have to start at the beginning.”

Llull himself is a relative newcomer to the sport of soccer. After playing and coaching youth baseball, basketball and “American football” — as he has quickly learned to call it — in East New York, Llull became interested in the sport known around the world as “futbol” because of the buzz it was causing around the school.

Six years ago, under the direction of then-head coach Constantin Parv, Newcomers began its first season as an unofficial club team in the PSAL. But because the team did so well, the Lions jumped straight to the tough Queens A West division, home of city powerhouse Newtown.

The team showed a steady improvement and when Parv pulled out of coaching the team because of personal reasons two years ago, Llull, who is also the school’s Athletic Director, decided to give it a shot.

“I know how to motivate and how to get a team to play together,” said Llull, who credits assistant coach Orlando Celis with most of the soccer-specific training. “I think that’s the key to coaching, rather than the X’s and O’s.”

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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