Todd Heil found a familiar face to be his successor as boys soccer coach at Santa Barbara High and a former nemesis of UCSB to head up the girls program.
Heil, who took over as the Dons’ director of athletics after 21 seasons of coaching, named former SBHS star Ricardo Alcaraz Cuellar as the new boys coach and former Cal State Northridge All-American Willie Sims to coach the girls varsity.
“I feel incredibly fortunate that we’ve been able to add Ricardo and Willie to lead our boys and girls soccer programs, respectively,” Heil said. “While they are both great coaches, they’re even better people.”
Alcaraz Cuellar was the playmaking midfielder in 2001 for the first of Heil’s three CIF-Southern Section championship teams. He scored nine goals and assisted eight others to lead the Dons to a 27-1-4 record and a No. 2 national ranking from the National Soccer Coaches Association and Adidas.
Santa Barbara wound up sharing the CIF-SS Division 3 crown with Brea Olinda after they battled to a 0-0 deadlock in the final.
Alcaraz Cuellar also played soccer at Westmont College, earning All-Golden State Athletic Conference honors in 2003. He later returned to Santa Barbara High to coach the Don’s lower-level programs for the last decade while also working as a teacher at Franklin Elementary School.
“Ricardo always had coaching qualities about him as a player,” Heil said. “He was always leading and pushing his teammates during practices and games. It was natural for his teammates to respect and follow him because he was always willing to do what he was asking of them.
“His passion for the boys’ soccer program and SBHS as a whole is unmatched. I have no doubt that he will work tirelessly to carry on the established tradition within the program that is simply Nosotros.”
Sims played on CSUN teams that challenged UCSB for Big West Conference preeminence from 2003 to 2005. He was voted Big West Co-Offensive Player of the Year in both 2003 and 2004 before earning NSCAA First-Team All-America honors in 2005.
He led the Matadors to the Round of 16 in the 2005 NCAA Tournament by leading them past the Gauchos, 3-2, in an epic, second-round match in Northridge. UCSB’s playoff exit sandwiched a pair of appearances in the NCAA final, which included its national championship run of 2006.
Sims was selected by the New England Revolution in the second round of the 2006 Major League Soccer SuperDraft, playing mostly for the club’s reserve team. He spent the bulk of his professional career in the United Soccer League and, having been born in Guatemala, also played for that country’s national team.
His professional career included stints on such clubs as the Puerto Rico Islanders, the San Fernando Valley Quakes, the Miami FC, Suchitepéquez of Guatemala, the Hollywood United Hitmen, the Ventura County Fusion, and finally the Los Angeles Misioneros from 2012 to 2014.
“We feel incredibly fortunate to have someone of Willie’s playing and coaching experience lead the girls soccer program at SBHS,” Heil said.
Sims, 36, began coaching as a volunteer assistant at CSUN in 2009. He also assisted the varsity team at Bishop Diego High School in 2013. He’s been working as development director and coach for the girls side — U9 to U14 — with the Santa Barbara Soccer Club.
He began helping with the Dons’ varsity last season, assisting interim coach Bridget Thomson after Santa Barbara fired its head coach just before Christmas. The Dons wound up advancing to the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs, winning a wild-card game before losing to top-seeded Flintridge Prep, 3-2, in a first-round, overtime thriller.
“Willie joined the girls soccer coaching staff at SBHS in the middle of last season and had an immediate impact on the varsity team,” Heil said. “He’s a student of the game who understands the importance of not just developing soccer players, but helping our student-athletes grow as individuals, as well.
“We’re very excited about the future and direction of the girls soccer program with Willie at the helm.”
Heil is still in search of a head softball coach. Those interested should contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.