As long as there have been varsity sports at Cabrillo High School, there’s been Pat Noyes.
He’s been teaching at the school since a few years after its doors opened in 1995, and is the only boys’ soccer coach the Jaguars have ever had—he started the varsity team in 1999. Now, Noyes and his historic group of Jags are re-writing the record books on the Westside: this Saturday they’ll play in the first CIF Southern Section championship game the school has ever been a part of, in any sport, when they face Arlington at Warren High at 1:30 p.m.
When Noyes walked into Cabrillo in 1998, he thought he’d reached the end of his coaching career. He’d been coaching soccer teams at Whittier College and Whittier High and was burned out. He viewed Cabrillo as a way just to teach physical education, health, driver’s training and whatever the administration wanted.
“Literally my first day here, the athletic director heard I’d been coaching and said, ‘Oh, do you want to be the soccer coach?’ I said, ‘Not really,’” Noyes remembered with a laugh. “But I decided to go see how the kids played. They were really good.”
The next year, Noyes added a varsity team to the frosh/soph and junior varsity soccer program. Their first year they went 6-6 in league and were just a single goal against Lakewood away from a 7-5 record that would have put them in the playoffs.
“The kid who just missed the game-winning goal just saw me, he asked if I’d still be coaching when his son gets here,” said Noyes. “I did the math and I will be, how crazy is that?”
This is Noyes’ 20th year coaching the Jaguars and 50th season coaching high school or college soccer, a career that includes 10 years co-coaching the LBCC men’s soccer team. In the last two decades, he’s not only been the school’s longest-tenured coach, he’s also been its most successful.
The Jaguars have claimed three Moore League championships across all sports—two of them from Noyes’ boys’ soccer team, which has also won more games, made the playoffs more times and gotten further in the playoffs than any other program in school.
Senior Leonardo Corona said that the program’s success is pinned on Noyes’ personality.
“He makes sure everyone is okay,” he said. “He’s always texting us to make sure everything is going okay. With school and everything; soccer is not the only thing. He cares about us in school and checks on our grades. He’s one of us.”
“He’s another father figure for all of us,” said Johnny Riquer, one of the team’s best defenders.
Noyes knew when this year started that this team had a chance to be special, and he was right.
The Jaguars enter Saturday’s championship game with a record of 25-2-4 and have already made history. Not only are they the first Cabrillo team to reach a CIF championship but, next week, they’ll be the first Cabrillo team to ever participate in the state playoffs, having already clinched a berth.
Whatever happens this weekend, they’re bringing home a CIF plaque, the first to ever come to the Westside. All that remains to be determined is if it will be gold or silver.
“If we lose, we’ll be sad but we’ll focus on state playoffs next week,” said Noyes. “I don’t think a loss would diminish this season in any way. But we want to win.”
Noyes has had an annual tradition of taking his team to Catalina Island to play Avalon High as a way to bond his players together. This year, he added trips to Rim of the World in the mountains as well as Santa Barbara for a tournament. The idea is to not only win soccer but also give his kids a glimpse of the world outside of the Westside.
“A few years ago some of the guys were asking why we had to buy a $40 ticket on the boat to Catalina, why couldn’t we just get some kayaks,” said Noyes. “They thought Catalina was the oil islands. This year we went up to the mountains and they couldn’t believe how clear the air was.”
After watching the school’s water polo team reach the Southern Section semifinals in the Fall, Noyes said he was refocused on the goal of winning a championship. He’s been preparing his team all week mentally, having guest speakers like Long Beach State coach Mauricio Ingrassia talk to his team.
The team will rely on its intricate, possession-style approach to try and pull off an upset this Saturday against an Arlington team that’s only lost two of its 30 games this season. It’s a style that Noyes has drilled into his teams from their freshman seasons.
“We’ve all had our moments where we’ve been mad at Noyes because we thought we were playing right,” said Riquer. “But, he’ll talk to us one-on-one and be like, ‘Look, this is why I tell you what I tell you because I want you to improve in this way. Because if you improve in this way, we can do this (as a team).’ Because of that, we’ve gained trust in him, and now we just listen to whatever he has to say.”
Between his patience in developing talent and the care he takes in looking after the personal lives of his players, it’s obvious that the team’s affection for Noyes is part of what unites them. When he was being photographed for this feature, the team teased him throughout but then congratulated him after. After their historic semifinal win last year, mid-celebration, Corona sought out Noyes and put his arm around his coach.
This week he posted a picture of that scene on Twitter with the caption, “Coach Noyes deserves it all.”
Noyes has written himself a unique legacy at Cabrillo and he knows where he wants the story to end. He’s planning on coaching another seven seasons and then retiring, hopefully with some more hardware added to the school’s trophy case.
The Cabrillo administration isn’t ready to think about life at the school without the stalwart coach and teacher, however.
“His longevity is a testament to his dedication to the kids,” said Cabrillo vice principal Stacie Alexander. “Regardless of the record, he’s about developing the kids. When that’s your focus, you’re going to stick around.”
Noyes knows how long he wants to stay at Cabrillo, but he also knows why. He said that it’s his goal to broaden his students’ horizons, whether through travel or encouraging them to aim high academically and professionally. But he also said that he’s gotten as much from them as he’s given.
“It’s cool,” he said. “It’s like I’m part of a big family.”
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