by Marta Helpenstell, Thurston Talk
South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) has new head coaching talent on campus for the upcoming school year. Juan P. Murillo and Tusalava Kuaea have been named head coach for the men's soccer team and women's volleyball team (respectively). Both Juan and Tusalava bring a broad range of athletic and life experience to the college and will most assuredly make each team something to watch this year.
Born and raised in Seattle, Juan is a second generation American, with Bolivian parents. Juan says soccer has always been a part of life and he grew up playing from a young age, thanks to his father's influence. It was at the tender age of nine that Juan decided to make soccer his life. He was accepted into an elite soccer academy in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, called Tahuichi Way International Youth Soccer Camp, a program intended to remove kids from poverty and drugs and give them a place to learn life lessons through sports. This decision would change not only his life, but his worldview.
"My parents wanted me to understand where they came from while I was growing up in the US," Juan says. "Spending time in a poor country like Bolivia then coming back to the states and seeing the amazing resources and opportunities people have here completely changed my outlook on the world. Mainly if you're fortunate enough to have an opportunity, don't waste it."
Soccer continued to be the driving force in Juan's life, playing for Ballard High School, then for Edmonds Community College before receiving a student-athlete scholarship to play at California State University, Monterey Bay. Juan says he understands the challenges associated with being a full time student and athlete and is excited to be a beacon of support and encouragement for his players at SPSCC.
"Now I get the opportunity to share my experience and help these young men achieve their goals," Juan says. "Bringing young men from all different areas of life and giving them the opportunity to get a degree and do something they love is the biggest thing for me. I'm honored to be in this position and to make an impact."
Juan holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from California State University, Monterey Bay and is pursuing a Master of Sport Administration and Leadership from Seattle University. Juan was named Head Coach at South Puget Sound Community College in March 2018, finally providing the opportunity to merge his two passions – soccer and higher education. He says the unique opportunity checked all the boxes and aligned with what his vision was as a head coach.
"The biggest thing I was looking for was diversity in a program," he says. "Soccer is such a global sport. It's amazing when people from different backgrounds and countries can come together for a unified goal. I think we need that in society right now."
Prior to SPSCC, Murillo served as the Director of Men's Soccer Operations at Seattle University. Murillo was in charge of all administrative duties and supported the Men's Soccer coaching staff during their 2017 season. In the spring of 2017, serving as the varsity assistant coach for Roosevelt High School, the team won the WIAA 3A State Championship. Murillo has also coached club soccer for Seattle United, where he won two consecutive Washington Youth Soccer State Cups with his U17 teams in 2017 and 2018.
Starting in the fall at SPSCC, Juan will be working as an educational planner along with coaching. Being a product of the community college system, he is excited about the opportunity to help kids map out their goals and set them up for success.
"All students, not just athletes, are trying to find their path and better their lives," he says. "As an educational planner, I get to help them map out each quarter, set long term goals and help support them on their academic journey. It's amazing."
Juan encourages students and community members alike to come out and support the Clipper Men's Soccer Team. The season is set to start September 1, with preseason games starting August 23. All home games will take place at the Regional Athletic Complex (RAC) in Lacey.
For more information on the men's soccer team, including game schedule, visit SPSCC Men's Soccer page.