GLEN RIDGE, NJ – Austin Alvarado is quite familiar with the Glen Ridge High School boys soccer program.
As a player for West Orange High School, one of the top programs in the state, Alvarado saw firsthand how the Ridgers would always compete hard, no matter how small they were as a Group 1 school.
Years later, Alvarado will get a chance to guide the Ridgers as their new head coach.
Alvarado was appointed to the helm on July 22, taking over for the venerable Steve Reitberger, who spearheaded the program to great success in the last 38 years before retiring this June.
Alvarado is excited to lead the Ridgers, praising the players’ passion year in and year out.
“One of the most appealing aspects of the position is the competitive greatness of Glen Ridge players bring to the program and field,” said Alvarado in a phone interview with The Glen Ridge Paper. “In all my experience against coach Reitberger’s side, I never seen them yield and they showed to me what it means to play for each other, and that is indicative of coach Reitberger’s leadership and preparation. That really is what excites me, to build on that foundation.”
Alvarado takes over a program that is coming off a fantastic season last fall when it finished runner-up in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 1 state tournament.
GRHS Athletic Director Rob Hill is thrilled to have Alvarado as the new boys soccer head coach.
In an email to The Glen Ridge Paper, Hill wrote: “We are very excited to have Austin Alvarado on board as our new Varsity Boy’s Soccer coach for the 2019 season. He comes to Glen Ridge with a wealth of playing and coaching experience and we are looking forward to seeing what he can do with our program.
“He has already met with myself and Coach Steve Reitberger several times to get a feel for the culture and community here at GRHS. He is going to honor the past (it’s no easy task to replace a legend like Steve) while making the program his own. He brings some new fresh ideas and this season will be an exciting one. We have realistic but high expectations and he is the right fit for the job.”
This season, the Ridgers have moved up to the Super Essex Conference-American Division, which is the top division in the conference. The other teams in the division are Seton Hall Prep, West Orange, Montclair, Millburn, Montclair Kimberley Academy, East Side, and Bloomfield.
The Ridgers will kick off the season Sept. 4 when they host West Orange, Alvarado’s alma mater. Alvarado also will face his high school coach, Doug Nevins.
As a senior in 2006, Alvarado was one of the top players for a West Orange team that finished with a 24-1 record, capped by the NJSIAA Group 4 state title under Nevins. Years later, Alvarado came back to WOHS and served an assistant coach for his mentor. He was on the coaching staff when WOHS won the Group 4 state crown in 2013. After being at WOHS for three years, Alvarado got his first head coaching job at the Ranney School in Tinton Falls. He coached at Ranney for two seasons, 2016 and 2017.
Alvarado’s main philosophy as a coach is building relationships and a foundation of trust.
Glen Ridge players take great pride in playing for their school, something that really impresses Alvarado.
“Players understand that putting on a Glen Ridge jersey means a little bit more,” Alvarado said. “That is truly the foundation and operation no matter where I am at. That where the excitement comes from.”
Competing in the Super Essex Conference always proves challenging. Alvarado relishes that challenge.
“It doesn’t get much better than that. There is not a match on that schedule where anybody can say, it’s a light day,” Alvardo said. “That’s why Essex County and SEC teams go on their own respective state tournaments and having consistent results on a year-to-year basis. It’s a great collection of talent and experience of coaches in multiple sports, not just soccer. Everything is just a bonus. It’s going to be a challenge, but I truly believe in the Glen Ridge players’ resolve because I played against them, even in the summer league when I took over. I am excited to get to work.”
Alvarado cherishes his relationship with Nevins, who has been at West Orange since 2000.
“I will be forever grateful to Doug,” Alvarado said. “He gave me the opportunity to come back and coach with him. I was very excited to start my high school freshman year alongside him. I truly valued my time with Doug there, as a player, winning a state title with him in 2006 and being able to capture a title with him in 2013 as a coach myself. To do that as a player and coach at a storied program like West Orange and with a friend and coach like Doug Nevins, it meant a lot to me because it’s giving back to your own and being part of that community. But in terms of knowledge and experience, it was the foundation for everything I have done since.
“Doug was always there for me and has been. His results speak for themselves, the amount of preparation and the tenacity that he has for his program and for his players.”
Alvarado can’t wait to pass on his knowledge at GRHS.