A Column By Tom Crowther
BurbankNBeyond Sports Editor
John Wooden was given the moniker the “Wizard of Westwood” for his decades of success at UCLA. Mike Kodama should be called the “Boffin of Burbank” for his success as the Burroughs boys’ soccer coach over the years (A boffin is a wizardly professor, a genius in one’s craft).
Kodama won seven league titles — five in the Foothill and two in the Pacific League — and made 12 CIF playoff appearances in his 22 year career at Burroughs. He is in the Burroughs’ “Hall of Fame” largely because the 244 career wins (to just 110 losses) is a mark that won’t be broken in any sport any time soon, if ever.
His stellar career that included coaching 19 All CIF players seemed to conclude in 2009 when the coach retired and turned his program over to former player and then assistant coach, Alan Machuca.
Machuca learned being a stellar player, a loyal assistant and an alumni to the school are only part of the equation when looking to be the decision maker and the head coach. He was gone after just two forgettable years known as much for students struggling with grades and a program struggling with fundraising than anything else.
Enter Kodama, the Kingmaker, to restore his former program to its former glory. The Indians travel to Mayfair Thursday, February 16 for a CIF Southern Section Division IV playoff match against the Monsoons. The Indians won or tied their last five matches and eight of nine to earn the match-up.
Burroughs overall mark of 9-8-4 is hardly one of Kodama’s best season marks, but in a lot of ways it is his most impressive. Even the folks familiar with his feats figured it would take the coach more than a season to right the ship in Indian Country after the Tribe had developed so many bad habits in his absence. The Indians strong finish and 8-3-3 Pacific League mark shows that those folks were wrong as Kodama made things right in only half a season.
When he left coaching in 200 9 after a playoff loss to Channel Islands, Kodama was humble as ever and deflected the moment to a team of 12 seniors saying, “It’s not about me, it’s about the guys.” I am certain he would say the same thing about this team on the verge of opening-up the CIF playoffs tomorrow.
The Indians have an elite goal scorer in Francisco Baez, who scored 18 goals in the Pacific League breaking the 1994 single-season mark of one of Kodama’s most accomplished players, Roberto Perez. However, the truth is only a coach with the pedigree of Kodama could have convinced these Indians that the 2-5-2 start was nothing to stress over and that they would be there in the end.
The Monsoons went 16-8-2 in the regular season and are playing at home. In many ways they are the favorite hosting the Indians. It doesn’t change the moral of this story, playing for Kodama these Indians have already won.