Ahead of the club’s inaugural PDL campaign in 2018 as part of the Southwest Division, SF Glens SC have announced their first head coach in team history, Javier Ayala-Hil.
Ayala-Hil, a former assistant at California and the current head coach at San Francisco State, takes the reigns for Glens SC as close to home as it gets. While the top assistant at Cal, Ayala-Hil has worked with many future professional players, including Steven Birnbaum, Nick Lima and Jonathan Klinsmann. During his own playing career, Ayala-Hil won two Pac 12 Championships with UC Berkeley and was named First Team All-Pac 10.
Now, Ayala-Hil takes over Glens SC, the PDL first team of the well-established SF Glens Evolution youth club, with a history dating back over half a century in San Francisco. The club’s commitment to player development led them to create a destination for their youth players to remain within the club as their careers progressed.
As he prepares for the important inaugural season ahead, Ayala-Hil talked to USLPDL.com about what the position means to him, his hopes for the 2018 season and the club’s ambitions moving forward.
PDL: You have a lot of a history in California, being from the Bay Area, attending Cal and coaching at both Cal and San Francisco State, what does taking this role mean to you emotionally?
Javier Ayala-Hil: I feel very blessed and humbled by this opportunity to Coach at the PDL level, especially so close to home. Living in the Bay Area has given me the platform to succeed both as a player and now as a coach.
PDL: What was it that made the head coach role at SF Glens SC so appealing to you?
JA: I have developed an amazing relationship with Mike McNeil over the last year and I have been so impressed with his level of commitment to grow the game at all levels in San Francisco. When I found out they were adding a PDL team within their club my first thought was, “Wow, you have a complete pyramid within your club!” Something that is built from the grassroots level and aspiring for the PDL level was appealing to me. This is how most professional clubs in Europe and the rest of the world function.
PDL: You had a very successful career with the Golden Bears, leading the team in points and goals in 2006 and being selected in the MLS Supplemental Draft. How do you hope to distill your own abilities and knowledge to the players under your leadership?
JA: I have been very fortunate to play and train at a high level most of my career. My actual professional soccer career was short lived, but through my experience in trialing with MLS, USL and European teams countless times, I developed a strong mentality to never give up on my dreams. In the end, I was meant to be a coach and I feel that my journey has influenced the way I coach my players.
PDL: What do you hope to carry over from your time as Head Coach at San Francisco State and as an Assistant Coach at California?
JA: Being able to relate to the players is a key piece for me. I have been in their position and I know that it is not easy trying to balance academics and sport at the college level. I have been fortunate to have coached numerous players that are now in the MLS, USL and European leagues. Most of those players played in the PDL at some point in their career.
PDL: What will your first goal to tackle be as the coach of SF Glens SC?
JA: The first thing we must focus on is having a clear vision of who we are as a team and how we are going to approach the game. With this vision, we can set a solid foundation and bring in players that will best fit our needs.
PDL: As you build out your roster for 2018, what are some traits, either on field or off, that you look for in your players?
JA: Buying into the team culture is a big component. There has to be a high level of commitment to the goals we set, both long and short term. A player has to have a competitive mentality with an eagerness to compete. This is how you create a winning culture, in my opinion.
PDL: With SF Glens SC entering its first PDL season, what do you expect from the team both on and off the field?
JA: We are starting from scratch and it is never easy to have quick success overnight, especially in such a competitive environment like the Southwest Division. I am very fortunate that we have a great infrastructure within SF Glens SC. Both the club and the San Francisco community are very excited to have another high-level team in the City. Our objective is to keep growing the game in the Bay Area across the board. With all of this support, I believe we may find success sooner than later.