Following a 4-0 victory on Thursday night at Memorial Field, the John Burroughs High School boys’ soccer team had more to celebrate than the final scoreboard digits.
A large crowd was in attendance after the win against their rival, Burbank High School, to honor longtime Burroughs boys’ soccer coach Mike Kodama, who stepped down from his role as head coach this past season. Kodama has coached at Burroughs since 1987, with a brief absence in the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Over the course of his career at JBHS, Kodama led the school to 11 league titles.
His impact was palpable as former players and city personnel were in attendance and speaking on behalf of Kodama and his contributions. Vice Mayor of Burbank, Bob Frutos, as well as City Council Members Emily Gabel-Luddy, Tim Murphy, and Jess Talamantes were amongst those in attendance and presented Kodama with a City Proclamation for his contributions to the program.
Councilwoman Gabel-Luddy has known Kodama for over 15 years and expressed how players have benefitted from his presence.
“He’s a delightful human being, and shows both kindness and generosity,” Gabel-Luddy said.
“With all of the players he’s coached over the years, it’s like he has hundreds of sons. They’re all skilled and know how to be thankful winners and lose like champions.”
Jose “Luigi” Munoz graduated from Burroughs in 2017 and played for Kodama for two years. Munoz says that Kodama instilled in his players a valuable discipline that came from a positive place.
“He was strict at times, but he’s a good man. He did it because he loved the players and for the love of the game,” Munoz said.
Kodama showed gratitude and humility as he addressed the crowd and gave a speech.
“I’m very humbled, what a great honor,” Kodama said.
Staying true to the virtuous nature attendees described, Kodama emphasized his joy in using coaching as a tool to help players mature through meaningful guidance.
“The important thing is taking the sport and turning it into life lessons,” Kodama said.“With all the guys coming back, it means the world. I really enjoy winning, but more than winning, I enjoy the journey, and watching these guys grow.”