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Manteca High's Justin Coenenberg named NFHS state Coach of the Year for girls soccer
Coenenberg coach of the year
Manteca girls soccer coach Justin Coenenberg raises the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship banner on Feb. 29. 2019. - photo by Wayne Thallander

Manteca High’s Justin Coenenberg was surprised to have even been nominated for the National Federation of State High School Federations (NFHS) Coaches Association Coach of the Year Award in the Sac-Joaquin Section.

Not only did he win the award back in October, he has been recognized at the state level. Coenenberg is the California Interscholastic Federation representative for girls soccer, earning eligibility to receive the NFHS national honor for the 2020-21 academic year.

Ripon High football coach Chris Musseman received the same awards for 2019-20 after leading the Indians to the CIF Division IV-AA state championship.

“I am very honored to receive this award,” Coenenberg said. “I don’t coach for the accolades, but it is nice to be recognized. The thing that makes me most proud is that my kids can look back on this and know that their dad worked hard, was passionate, and that that hard work and passion made him successful. 

“It has always been extremely important to me to be a good example to my own kids as well as my students and players.”

A social studies teacher at the school, Coenenberg has built an impressive résumé in his 13 years as MHS girls soccer coach, but Athletic Director Neil MacDannald said it goes beyond the results. He praised Coenenberg for his ability to get the best out of his players with an even-keeled approach. MacDannald also lauded his organizational skills and charity work.

The Manteca girls soccer team puts on its “Kicking for a Cure” event annually, raising money for a local youth battling cancer. The team has raised $116,43.10 over 10 years. The Buffaloes also volunteer their time in the annual Manteca Rotary Super Bowl Breakfast.

MacDannald added that Coenenberg is a well-respected teacher campus, calling him “the whole package.”

“As an administration, he is what you want for coaches and teachers to emulate,” MacDannald said. “Would you want your own child to be taught or coached by this person? With Justin, the answer is ‘Absolutely.’

“Whenever there is an opportunity to nominate someone for an award like this a few names pop into our heads because we have a wonderful coaching staff. This is a guy who, at this point, really, really standouts out as to what we look for from our coaching staff here at Manteca High. … I can’t say enough great things about him as a coach, teacher and a friend.”

The Buffs went 11-2-1 during the pandemic-shortened spring season last school year. In the 2019-20 season, Coenenberg led Manteca to its second SJS championship and first appearance in a CIF NorCal Regional. Overall, Coenenberg carried a sparkling 219-72-28 record heading into this season, guiding the Buffs to four SJS finals and a Valley Oak League championship in 13 years.

Coenenberg also coached the boys team for 10 years, going 115-82-31 with two league titles. He is a five-time VOL Coach of the Year.

“Over the years at Manteca High, I have had the opportunity to coach some great players,” Coenenberg said. “They are just as much, if not more, a part of the success of this program. I have tried to create a winning environment in addition to teaching life lessons through soccer. The players have embraced the environment and have made some great things happen. 

“Some of my most cherished memories and moments have been with my teams here at Manteca. Another thing that I can be proud of is the great relationships I have made with many of my players. There are many players that I still keep in contact with and have continued to be a part of their lives. Many of these players have also been great role models for my daughter, who is a soccer player as well. She really looks up to many of them.

“I am also grateful for the admin at Manteca who have always supported the program. I hope coaching at Manteca is something I will be able to do for many more years. Just as I expect my players to work hard in the offseason and improve, I continue to stay motivated and to improve and learn new things, as well.”