Strategy For Success
The Del Norte High School Ladies Soccer Program fosters excellence on and off the field. Success is a team effort, from the student athletes themselves to their coaching staff to the tremendous support from the wider community. Last season saw some exciting wins, and this year’s team is determined to reach their goals as well. We spoke with Head Coach Gary Rossi to learn more.
Q&A with Head Coach Gary Rossi
What is the history of the program, and how has it evolved over the years?
When I was applying for this position, I desired to make it more than just soccer. I desired to make it about growth as a student athlete, to prepare those student athletes that desired to compete at the next level, and to build young independent women leaders. So, with a background in strategic planning, the Baldrige Criteria for Organizational Performance Excellence, and 20-plus years as a Navy leader, I developed a skeleton strategic plan with many aspirations and goals – that was in 2009 – for the organizational side. For the soccer aspect of the program, I did an in-depth research of the best NCAA Division 1 programs and the successes they achieved and how they did it, benchmarking in seeking to see if I could adopt as well as adapt. In my research, it was not hard to identify that the best Division 1 program was developed and led by Anson Dorrance from the University of North Carolina. We have refined many things over the course of the eight years, but these two aspects are truly the roots of our program.
What is your role with the team, and what does that role involve?
I have had many roles with the program and the varsity team. As the leader of the program when it was first launched, it was establishing a vision of the future. As we progressed, then not only keeping our eyes on our plan for the future but implementing for success, plus including the student athletes involved in the process as well as getting the parents and coaching staff all going in the same direction. Overall and at the end of the day – leader, coach, mentor, teacher, and someone all the student athletes can come to for guidance and assistance.
Can you tell us about your experience with the sport?
My experience with the sport started with my son when he was six. We signed our son up to play recreational soccer in Rancho Peñasquitos. After a few of the games (Bubble Bee), I enjoyed watching him play, saw the other parents jumping up and down and screaming, and just thought I could do that too. I started coaching both my son and daughter in recreational soccer. I then volunteered to coach my first competitive girls under-8 team in PQ. While in PQ, I coached teams from U8 through U16. I then coached the freshman team at Westview High School for four years when the opportunity for the varsity head coaching position came about.
At-A-Glance | Head Coach
Name: Gary Rossi
Position: Program and Varsity Head Coach
Community: Carmel Valley
Education: Master of Arts in Management/Organizational Development
Family: Daughter Amanda (26) and son AJ (22)
Hobbies and Interests: Career-development coaching and advising; strength and conditioning coaching for young aspiring Navy Frogmen/SEALs; Business/Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence coaching; reading and writing; exercising and cycling.
What is the tryout process like, and who is eligible?
All student athletes are eligible to try out for the Del Norte Ladies Soccer Program. The tryout process is a competitive process that we have adapted from the University of North Carolina. There are three distinct parts of the process that take place over an entire week from Saturday to Saturday. The final evaluations are based on their performance while being placed on full teams of 11 players in a match environment.
When does the season begin and end?
There are really three parts to our season. The pre-season, which includes tryouts, usually starts the third week in November through the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays with conference-established cross league matches, our annual Torrey Pines match, as well as two tournaments, one being the Butch Lee Memorial Classic. The second is the league schedule starting usually the third week in January and going into the middle of February. Finally, post-season play with the CIF San Diego Section Tournament followed by the Southern California CIF Championships through to the second week of March – the high school soccer season is fast and furious!
What are you looking forward to as the 2017-2018 season continues?
I expect an exciting year – we have returners coming back that had injuries last year that were not able to play a complete season, we have other returners that were healthy last year and are healthy currently, and we have a new group of first-year varsity players from seniors to freshman that bring a wide variety of skills and talents. I am very encouraged and excited and cannot wait to see all our young lady student athletes compete on the pitch!
What is the most rewarding aspect of coaching? The most challenging?
The most rewarding is to see and experience the growth of the young ladies as they go from freshman to senior, then go off into the world and come back and share their successes.
The most challenging is from a soccer standpoint since we have so much fantastic talent. The most challenging for us as a coaching staff is to complete the puzzle and place the right student athlete in the right place for the team to succeed as well as the player to succeed, and we have only a very short time to do that.
Mission: Competitive program contributing to the overall success of Del Norte High School as well as success for the players as student athletes and contributing future leaders.
Vision: Del Norte High School is the premier women’s high school soccer program in San Diego County and continues to garner state and national recognition.
Values: Desire, dedication, determination, and discipline.
Tell us about the support you receive from parents, volunteers, and the community.
The support from the parents, volunteers, and our high school community is always fantastic. It is truly a complete team effort. The parents and volunteers always are there for providing assistance in the snack bar, organizing senior night, the end-of-the-season banquet, and fundraising, not to mention attendance at the matches. Our high school community has been just as fantastic, whether it was the first CIF final or the CIF championship match of two years. At the match against Scripps Ranch, I am so focused on the match I rarely notice the stands. There was one play and the crowd erupted – I turned around and there were so many students, parents, and Del Norte supporters. It was amazing.
How can parents or community members get involved?
There are many ways to get involved: help in the snack bar (contact Mrs. Cindy White); help in a wide variety of activities (contact Coach Gary Rossi); and finally, as we generate our own donations to pay for uniforms, field improvements to the goals, etc., donations and obtaining sponsors would be a huge help. Thank you in advance for doing that!
What are your short-term and long-term goals for the program?
Short-Term Goal: Gel as a team and get that chemistry to be successful.
Long-Term Goal: We always set high goals to win league, win CIF, and then get to the Southern California regionals and win.
At-A-Glance | Del Norte Ladies Soccer Program
Head Coach: Gary Rossi
Coaches: Otilio Molano – Assistant Varsity Coach; Caroline Muoio – Junior Varsity Coach; Randi Buccat – Freshman Coach; Alex Grosbeck – Goalie Coach
Tell us about the coaching staff and the type of experience and skills that they bring to the table.
Varsity Assistant Coach Otilio Molano has now been with the program for three years – he brings a vast amount of experience as a player, he possesses the same principles as I do as he is an Army veteran, and most importantly he has a low-key manner, which balances and complements my coaching style.
The junior varsity coach, Caroline Muoio, played for Carlsbad High School, then at CSU Bakersfield. She started with the freshman team, melded absolutely superbly, and now coaches the junior varsity. She is an amazing player and coach, and possesses and provides a great viewpoint as a woman collegiate athlete.
The new freshman coach, Randi Buccat, a former Del Norte Ladies Soccer Program standout, possesses a high soccer IQ and superlative athleticism as a player. As a coach, she brings high energy, enthusiasm, a new outlook, and the Del Norte winning competitive attitude and edge.
The goal coach, Alex Groesbeck, also a former Del Norte Nighthawk Men’s Standout Goalie and a San Diego paramedic, rounds out our staff. Alex over the last two years has been integral in the improvement of our goalies – he also has a keen insight on the game and is always there to provide additional exceptional insight and recommendations.
Are there any local talents who have gone on to or are expected to play on a collegiate and/or professional level?
• Kyra Carusa (2014) – Stanford
• Dominique Diller (2015) – Lipscomb University
• Dorie Moul (2016) – Florida State/Utah Valley University
• Dani Baldwin (2016) – CSU Fullerton
• Stephanie White (2016) – University of Texas Dallas
• Kelley Carusa (2016) – University of San Diego
• Rising stars and players to compete at the next level: Kelsey White, Morgan White, Jordan Gearhart, Nicole Delao, Macy DeCarlo, Bella Munar, Diana Gracia, Grace Cosgrove, Megan Donovan, Justine Ouellet, Micaela Rafael, and Nya Harrison.
What awards has the team garnered over the years?
• 2016 Season: Overall 16-7-2; League 9-1; Avocado League Champions; CIF-SDS Division 1 Champions – first DNHS sports team to win a CIF SDS Division 1 Championship!
• 2015 Season: Overall 13-6-4; League 9-0-1; Avocado League Champions; CIF-SDS Quarterfinals
• 2014 Season: Overall 14-4-5; League 8-1-1; Valley League Champions; CIF-SDS Quarterfinal
• 2013 Season: Overall 12-5-4; League 6-2-2; Valley League 2nd Place; CIF-SDS Semi-Finals
• 2012 Season: Overall 23-4-0; League 10-0-0; Valley League Champions; CIF-SDS Finals – CIF Runner-Ups
• 2011 Season: 1st Varsity Ladies Soccer Season: Overall 10-8-5; League 4-1-3; Valley League 2nd Place; CIF-SDS Quarterfinal
• Not to mention the players have accumulated All League Awards, First Team League Honors, Second Team League Honors, All Conference Honors, First Team CIF Honors, and Second Team CIF Honors.