CAPTAIN JACK IS BACK - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra


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Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2007 2:29 pm | Updated: 7:23 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

His adventurous nature has led him to run with the bulls in Spain as well as explore Antarctica. He's also determined enough to have climbed to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest peak in Africa. Three years removed from coaching what he thought would be his final game at Cactus, Jack Altersitz, couldn't resist the challenge to lead the 4A West Valley Region program once again. "I never thought I'd be back doing this," said the man who gave birth to the Cobras soccer program. "The three years I've been retired have been unbelievable. Coaching is such a commitment, but when I got word that Garrison (Harmann) was giving up teaching and coaching, I called to get the details of what they were going to do." After a brief discussion with athletic director Brian Duguid, it became clear that the Cobras wouldn't mind having their old coach back. Altersitz spent the last three years travelling. He was also a familiar face at West Valley high school soccer games. He bounced between Cactus, watching his former assistant Harmann lead the Cobras, or games coached by his former players; Steve Ybarra at Centennial or Tim Beck at Ironwood. "Being a small part of it was enough, but I'm enjoying being back," he said. That was his evaluation as of Monday, one that had been revised. "After the first two days I was thinking to myself, ?what did you do you fool?' I was coaching the way I coached before," said the coach of six champsionship teams. "That had worked because the players knew me. They knew the expectations. I'm the new guy in town to these guys. They don't know what to expect from me. It used to be every year, the older guys taught the newer guys what the expectations were. Now, I've got to reestablish what our expectations are. Since the first two days, I've become more relaxed." As he prepared for his first game in his second stint as Cobras coach Altersitz, who is 322-81 in 23 years of coaching, said the talent is in place for the Cobras to compete. "Garrison left the cupboards full," the coach said. "They went 17-6-1, which is a very good record. I've seen a lot of these guys play the last couple of years, so it's more them getting used to me than me, having to get used to them." Two players Altersitz said his team will be able to depend on night in and night out are seniors Tim Mead and Nick Gaber. Altersitz has converted both players into midfielders. Defensively, junior John Pearman will be the team's sweeper. He'll be joined in the back by a group that includes seniors John Lamoreaux, Devon Beck and Chris Trujillo. Altersitz said the four Cs to Cactus's success during his first go-around were: commitment, communication, composure and confidence. This year's team, he said, has some of those things in place. "Communication is the one I really am stressing," he said. "There is talent, but they lack cohesiveness because they all come from different clubs and playing different styles. Because of that, you have to talk out there if you're going to play well together." While club commitments have kept Altersitz from getting to spend much time with his entire squad, he said making progress on a daily basis will get the Cobras where they want to go. "They want to win which is important," he said. "A lot of people hate to lose. But the question is, are you willing to do the work ahead of time to put yourself in position where you're working towards being a winner. It's easy when things are going well. The question is do you have the fortitude to dig deep when you face adversity." If they need a bit of advice on how to endure such situations, they can assuredly turn to their coach who had the moxie to elude being gourged by bulls. Considering he's reached the heights of 15,100 feet and that he's won six state championships, Altersitz has first-hand knowledge that the sky is the limit.

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[Stats Courtesy of MaxPreps]