As a longtime club coach, high school coach and junior college assistant, Justin Schroeder stays plugged into the world of Southern California youth soccer.
Schroeder had been the girls' soccer coach at Bellflower High for nine years. Yet, when he heard the Newport Harbor job was open in March, he didn't hesitate to apply.
"The way I looked at Newport is that there's tons of talent there, and they should be winning games," Schroeder said. "It was definitely on my short list of places I could go and be successful, for sure. I'm on the CIF [Southern Section Girls Soccer Advisory Committee], so I'm aware of teams and places and demographics … It's a place that I know can win."
Schroeder will get his chance. He's the new coach of the Sailors, taking over for Larry Draluck, who resigned midway through the season in January. Edson Rodriguez finished out the season as interim coach.
Schroeder, 35, also works as an assistant women's soccer coach at Whittier College. He played goalie at Long Beach Millikan and Long Beach State. He is a special education teacher who will begin the school year teaching at Estancia High, but is hopeful to become an on-campus coach at Newport Harbor soon.
Newport Harbor Principal Sean Boulton, in an email announcing the hiring, called Schroeder "a perfect fit." Schroeder said he's excited to get started. He hasn't met Sailors players yet, but will starting next week, when he hosts a summer camp at Harper School in Costa Mesa.
The Sailors struggled under Draluck, who guided them for nine years. They haven't made the playoffs since 2012 and went 4-13-7 last year, including a 2-8 mark in the Sunset League, last in the six-team league. When he resigned, Draluck cited the players' lack of passion as one of his reasons.
Schroeder certainly seems to have passion and energy. He knows the Sunset League is tough but he said the Sailors should benefit from the new CIF Southern Section competitive equity rules that may drop them down from Division 1.
There is also talent on the team. Striker Sianna Siemonsma, a University of Washington commit, will be a senior next season.
Schroeder said he sees the situation as similar to when he took over at Bellflower.
"Mayfair and La Mirada kind of dominated the [Suburban] League, similar to Edison and Los Al [in the Sunset League]," Schroeder said. "Within a couple of years, we were right there with them competing for a title every year. It's not a very different situation. It's actually a better situation, because it's walking into players that have that class already with them."
Schroeder never quite guided the Buccaneers to a league title, but he said they did make the CIF playoffs in seven of his nine years. Last year, they went 7-3-2 for third place in the league, losing at Riverside Poly, 5-0, in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs.
Now, Schroeder will guide the Sailors. He added that Angela Reling, a new physical education teacher at Newport Harbor, will be an assistant on his staff. Reling played Division 1 women's soccer at UC Riverside.