The Golden Valley athletics department announced the hiring of Ken Claborn as its new varsity head soccer coach in a press release distributed on Tuesday.
Along with Freddy Wheeler, who will be assisting the girls soccer team this season, Claborn joined the program last year as an assistant coach just two days prior to the start of the season.
“When they first approached me they were in a tough situation because they had an issue with their previous coach. So they had to make a change pretty quickly,” Claborn said. “They trusted (us) with the program and things really seemed to become organized and more structured. I think that’s what led them to have a lot of confidence in us.”
Claborn is the definition of a soccer “lifer.” He started playing at the youth level, then moved on to club soccer. He played center midfielder at Brea Olinda High School in Orange County and helped his team win a CIF championship in his junior season. He was named captain of his team in his senior year and his team reached the CIF finals once again, though they lost.
He continued to play at the community college level and then in semi-pro leagues during his 20’s. After his playing days were over, Claborn stayed involved in the game because several of his friends were coaches at youth and club levels.
Claborn also comes from a coaching background. His dad was a football, wrestling and golf coach for almost 25 years at Esperanza High School in Anaheim.
However, it was when he started coaching his own kids that Claborn really fell in love with the profession.
“When I had kids, I started coaching them in AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) up into the club levels,” he said. “That was the starting point in which I realized how much I loved it. I kept going with it and one thing led to another.”
Claborn, who has been a licensed chiropractor for 21 years and owned his own practice in Granada Hills, decided to focus on coaching full-time.
He now takes over a program that has struggled in recent years, having won only two league games since the 2013-14 season.
Claborn knows it will take time to get things moving in the right direction, but for now, his main concern is making sure his student-athletes are preparing diligently both on and off the pitch.
“Academics first. As long as they are doing their best with their academics and respecting the process with their athletics,” Claborn said. “Respecting the culture of practice and respecting the competition. Giving their best effort and showing integrity throughout everything they do.
“Ultimately that’s what’s going to take them through the rest of their lives. How hard they try. Are they committed? Showing up every day. That’s what we’re looking for at this point.”
Golden Valley opens the season at home on Wednesday, Nov. 14, against Palmdale Aerospace Academy. The match begins at 3:15 p.m.