By Lucas Almeida
The men’s soccer team at City College was considered an average athletic program in the early 1990s with a losing reputation and difficulty with recruiting. After years of mediocrity and playoff droughts, an enthusiastic coach with a love for soccer was brought aboard and eventually turned the program around.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Adam Lucarelli, 50, grew up playing sports—basketball, soccer, baseball and running track and cross-country.
Lucarelli graduated from California State University Hayward with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in physical education/kinesiology and first started teaching at City College in 1991.
It wasn’t until 1993 when then-soccer head coach Mitchell Palacio invited Lucarelli to be his assistant coach. This gave Lucarelli the opportunity to once again be involved with soccer, a passion that had been sidelined.
“[Growing up] my older brother influenced me a little bit because he played in high school and he would take me to watch the old San Jose Earthquakes back in the ‘70s,” Lucarelli said.
Being assistant coach for Palacio during the 1993-1994 season “rekindled the fire” for soccer Lucarelli said.
After taking over in 1996, Lucarelli gradually built the program and has made “soccer just as important as football,” he said with confidence.
Lucarelli said that going from just an average soccer program to winning the Coast Conference championship in 2000 and being ranked No. 10 in the nation by National Soccer Coaches Association of America was the most rewarding moment of his coaching career.
“It put us on the map,” he said.
Lucarelli made history in 2012 taking the Rams to the state championship final against Mount San Antonio College, who beat the Rams 2-0.
“It was kind of a bittersweet thing. After a year you can look back at it with a little more fondness … it was a huge disappointment not winning the final game,” Lucarelli said. “As time goes by and you start thinking about how far the program has come … we’ve made some great strides. I’m proud the soccer program is well-respected now.”
Lucarelli has accumulated a record of 142-52-46 over the last 11 years including this year’s current record, according to online statistics.
After setting the bar so high last year Lucarelli faces the pressure of taking a young freshmen team to the top again.
Not only does Lucarelli take his coaching seriously, but his philosophy goes beyond soccer, also mentoring his players to prioritize their education.
“Coach Adam would always make sure that we were attending class and taking care of [our] school business,” former Rams’ goalkeeper Martin De La Torre said. “For him education was priority before soccer.”
Daniel Hayes, who has been the chair of the athletics department for the last eight years, has seen the progress and dedication Lucarelli has devoted to the soccer program.
“I’m very proud of him and how he’s built this program,” Hayes said. “Any way you can measure the success of a program Adam satisfies that in every single way. It’s a complete program.”
If City College loses its accreditation the coach says he would try to stay in the profession of coaching and teaching.
Regardless, Lucarelli has written his name in the history of the men’s soccer program and will leave behind a successful coaching legacy.