CHARACTER COUNTS

Refugio ‘Coach Kuko’ Juarez named Arizona Sports Coach of the Month

May 1, 2024, 5:07 AM | Updated: 1:14 pm

Refugio "Coach Kuko" Juarez at the Arizona Sports studios.

Refugio Juarez has been named as the Arizona Sports Coach of the Month winner for April because of how he uplifts the soccer players for La Academia FC in Mesa.

Read more about Juarez, known to his players as Coach Kuko, from the nomination letter:

If Coach Kuko does not deserve this award, I do not know who does. He coaches the 2013 boys soccer team for La Academia in Mesa. The club practices three nights a week from 6-8 p.m. Coach Kuko is there at every practice despite working a landscaping job all day in the heat. He is always in a great mood and is so welcoming to all of the kids; he treats them like they are his kids. He has so much patience with the children and the players get better every practice due to his guidance. This includes discipline when it is required.

The team has been very successful this past season. They went undefeated and won the 2023 Arizona Soccer Club Heritage Cup and the 2024 East Valley Spring Invitational. In these tournaments despite having some close games, Coach Kuko played his whole roster, which included two girls (my daughter being one of them) on an all-boys team and tournament. Every player got their regular playing time. Coach Kuko’s main goal is to play as a team and improve as a team. The winning or losing does not factor into playing time. But he has prepared the team so well with a mild-mannered, encouraging demeanor, that the team went on to win all of those close games.

My daughter could not even pass a soccer ball in August. And I did not think she would make it on this select team, but Coach Kuko saw potential in her as she tried out/practiced with the team. She now is very competitive on the field and has improved beyond what I thought was imaginable. This same transformation goes beyond my daughter and extends to all of the other players. He has worked his magic to assure all of the players are excelling and each is the best version of themselves, which sounds cliche, but it is the truth.

He is an absolute great coach, and an even better person. He truly deserves this award.

Nominate the next deserving coach for the Arizona Sports Coach of the Month award.

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Refugio ‘Coach Kuko’ Juarez named Arizona Sports Coach of the Month