East Mountain High School’s new boys soccer coach Jerry Duran stood in the middle of a group of players during a recent summer workout calling out directions: “You have to be on your toes, play on your toes! Good, good, faster, faster!”

It was a weekday morning just before 7 a.m. and the players were running through a slew of drills as Duran was drumming into their heads plenty of instruction, encouragement, and motivation.

“I’m gonna be like no coach you’ve ever had before,” he said to them.

Duran—who recently coached the Manzano boys varsity squad and the La Cueva C-team before that—is East Mountain’s sixth boys soccer coach since 2011.

“This is gonna be a new challenge, especially going to the A-3A district because I’ve never coached in that, it’s always been 5A,” Duran said. “But with these guys I’m seeing a hunger that I haven’t seen in a long time, they’re like sponges trying to soak everything up.”

Duran is taking the helm of an East Mountain program that has endured its share of struggles. Other than a 10-10 record in 2017, the Timberwolves have had a lengthy stretch of losing seasons.

“We’re gonna try to change that,” Duran said. And he hit the ground running about eight weeks ago, getting the players together early weekday mornings for optional workouts before heading to his day job.

“You’ve gotta work hard early so you can win later on,” he said.

Duran said he’s focusing on fitness at this point and will soon concentrate on the technical part—how they touch the ball and how they see the game. He said he’ll eventually shift gears to work on the mental aspect of the game.

“That’s gonna be the ongoing one,” he said. “They have to learn how to win, they have to learn how to finish. They’ve had, what, one 500 season in the last seven or eight years? I want them to be chomping at the bit before we play our first game, if we can get that accomplished that’ll carry us a little bit.”

One thing Duran said he won’t have to worry about is the attitudes of the players.

“I haven’t had a group of boys that have been this exuberant in a while,” Duran said. “They’re showing up at six o’clock in the morning—how many times can you get a teenager to show up anywhere at six o’ clock in the morning? So, the desire’s there, they’re buying into it, and they’re sticking to it, it’s a great foundation.”