By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Halfway through his first season as head coach of the Palisades High boys soccer team, Marvin Lemus is learning fast what it’s like when the shoe’s on the other foot.
After serving as an assistant to Dave Suarez for years, now it’s his turn to call the shots with Suarez serving as his assistant and both student and teacher believe the transition couldn’t have been smoother.
“It was a smooth transition—Dave was on top of it all and I appreciate him giving me the opportunity,” Lemus said. “Dave prepared for games in a way I’ve never seen before. I’m more of a tactician. We have different philosophies but he would always ask me ‘Are you ready for this?’ It’s a great situation because he’s on campus so he can take care of the registration, the paperwork and all that. All I have to do is coach and I get great input from Dave and my other assistants Rob [Hockley] and Josh [Figueroa].”
Lemus attended Marquez Elementary and Paul Revere Middle School before Palisades. He played midfield for Suarez and was the Dolphins’ captain for two years, graduating in 2012. He went on to play at Santa Monica College and now plays for LA 10 FC, a semipro club in the United Premier Soccer League. He also coaches an 11U team for LA Breakers FC.
Although he still heeds advice from his mentor, Lemus has his own vision of where he wants to take the program— and how he wants to get there.
“I had the JV for two years and overall five years, so I’ve been around the team long enough,” he said. “I suffered a ruptured in disc in college and my injury is what got me into coaching.”
Suarez set a high standard in his 11 seasons at the helm, piloting Palisades to 10 Western League titles and its first City Section championship in 2015-16. Lemus was on the field or on the sideline for all of it and got to experience many of the team’s successes and failures along the way. His task is maintaining the level of excellence his predecessor demanded while implementing his own style and identity.
“The biggest challenge so far is getting things done,” added Lemus, whose mom works as a housekeeper in the Highlands. “We want something done and for whatever reason it doesn’t get done, Grades are really important to me… I wasn’t the best student at Pali and I want my players to understand how important that is. As for a system, I’d love to run a 4-3-3 but we’re not ready yet, so for now we’ll stick with a defensive formation like a 4-2-3-1.”
As for his players, they like that Lemus can still strap on the shin guards and play with them.
“It’s really cool to have a coach you respect as a player,” senior Colton Peffer said. “He can step on the field and school us. And this is his alma mater, so you know that he cares how we do.”