Coach Profile: The impact of his upbringing on Jose Caballero


Isabella Rice

Jose Caballero stands on the sideline as he watches the varsity boys soccer practice.

While many coaches yell from the sidelines, Jose Caballero coaches his players with a calm demeanor. Known for allowing players to make their own choices, Caballero focuses on the fun and passion found in soccer. 

Caballero’s experience with coaching dates back to when he was 14 years old when he was offered a coaching opportunity at his local school. He coached soccer for kindergarteners, 1st graders, 2nd graders, and 3rd graders. This year marks Caballero’s 48th year of coaching. 

Caballero is the head coach for the Carlmont boys varsity soccer team. Additionally, he is the coach of five Belmont United soccer teams and runs his clinics for players throughout the Bay Area. He has turned teams around and has led many to several successful seasons. Caballero’s practices are different from most, filled with positive and relaxed coaching. His unique coaching style is primarily attributed to his hardships in his home country, El Salvador.

As a child in El Salvador, Caballero grew up surrounded by soccer. It was his life. Every day was a routine of school, soccer, and work. When describing his childhood, Caballero put a great emphasis on the sport. Despite his financial struggles, he made the most out of what he could.

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I use soccer as a tool to send a message to everybody that I coach. To make the best out of your opportunities, in life, in sports, and in academics.”

— Jose Caballero, head coach of Carlmont boys varsity soccer

“It was the best. I had a beautiful childhood. No money, but I played every day, an average of eight hours a day in the park playing soccer. Four vs. four, with little goals made of two rocks and the mango tree in the middle,” Caballero said. “It was awesome. We set up the rules, and we own the game.”

In just one day, everything changed. It all took a turn with the start of the civil war in 1980. Each day was full of uncertainty, being unsure of what could happen the next minute. For Caballero, it was this one moment that completely changed his life.

“All of a sudden, this car comes out of nowhere. All these men get out. They have guns on them, and they hit me and drop me, my face to the ground. The guy said to me if I moved, he would kill me. I ran away from him. I moved the pistol out of my face and ran from him,” Caballero said.

This turning point in Caballero’s life allowed him to realize the true realities of life. Nothing is ever guaranteed, and things can change within minutes. 

“I lost so many friends in the war,” Caballero said. “That is when I made one conscious decision. It is to have fun and enjoy life. And that is what I try to teach. I use soccer as a tool to send a message to everybody that I coach. Make the best out of your opportunities in life, sports, and academics.”

Caballero’s coaching is reflected by the many ups and downs he faced in his earlier years. Between growing up with little money and suffering from the loss of many loved ones, he strives to spread a message that encourages his players to make the most out of what they can. 

“I always tell them before the game to just go there and have fun. I want soccer to be an outlet for my players,” Caballero said.

Senior Talin Negandhi has been a player of Caballero’s for over four years. Throughout his high school soccer career, he has enjoyed playing for Caballero due to his more relaxing coaching style.

“He is way more flexible. We discover what to do and what not to do on the field by ourselves. He doesn’t hold our hand while we play the game. He expects us to figure it out,” Negandhi said.

Caballero’s noteworthy childhood is reflected clearly by how he lets the Carlmont varsity boys play soccer and control their own game.