California State University, Long Beach
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Raising Soccer’s Profile

Published: October 3, 2016

If there is a face of soccer in the City of Long Beach, it might just be that of Mauricio Ingrassia.

“I don’t know about that,” said Ingrassia, now in his 13th season as the women’s soccer head coach at CSULB, “but I have been around doing this for quite a while.”

And, he has been quite successful, first as a player at Los Alamitos High School and collegiately at San Diego State and Cal State Fullerton, before getting into coaching.

Arguably, his most prominent coaching achievement to date may have been as head coach at Long Beach City College (LBCC), where he led the Vikings to five state titles. He compiled an overall mark of 184-24-8, which included an astounding 55-match winning streak to finish up his LBCC career in 2003.

He interviewed for the CSULB job not once, not twice, but three times, finally landing the position he coveted. He knew he could be successful at the NCAA Division I level. He knew that the first time he went for the job.

Once his, Ingrassia took a program that never had a winning season since reinstatement in 1998, and guided it heart-wrenchingly close to reaching the sport’s Final Four in 2011.

“I still haven’t been able to digest that,” said the Argentinian-born Ingrassia, who learned to speak English watching Popeye cartoons, yes Popeye. “We were 30 minutes away from a Final Four. Having the opportunity to play for the national championship is what we really want. We know it’s difficult, but not impossible.”

He turned his first recruiting class at CSULB into Big West Conference champions as sophomores, juniors and seniors. His second cycle of recruits reached the Elite 8, thus making him optimistic about his squad’s future—immediate and distant.

But, even with all his success, Ingrassia knows there is more work to be done. And, you don’t have to spend much time with him to realize he sees the big picture. He’s not just about 49er soccer, he’s about soccer. Period.

Ten years ago, he took over the city’s Beach Futbol Club. He didn’t see it as just a way to raise his own professional profile and potentially garner some of those talented players for his own collegiate program. In his mind, it was a way to raise the profile of soccer in a region oozing with talent. The rest would come.

At the time, what was then called the Long Beach Soccer Club was on the verge of folding, according to Ingrassia. They wanted him to take over and he agreed—with conditions.

They had to change the name to the Beach Futbol Club and the colors to black and gold. It was no coincidence those were CSULB’s team colors.

“That gave me a little bit of subliminal recruiting,” he joked. “It was kind of planting a little seed so when a kid got ready to play in college, she may consider us. That was my goal.” His honesty is refreshing.

But, the Beach Futbol Club was no small undertaking. It wasn’t comprised of just a dozen or so teams strewn throughout Long Beach, something that would require a limited time commitment. Instead, it was 40 teams in Long Beach and 50 more in the South Bay. The 90 teams are split between two training centers, one each in Long Beach and Redondo Beach. Despite the large responsibility, Ingrassia took it on.

“My thought was that, if I can touch the community by directing a club or if our assistant coaches can be involved, then we can touch an entire region,” he said. “When you allow coaches to coach local clubs, you’re basically helping them to develop the soccer in the area, which is really what we want to do.”

Portrait of Mauricio Ingrassia
PHOTO BY JEFF SIPSEY
Mauricio Ingrassia

Ingrassia sits on the club’s board, runs the soccer side of things and also coaches a couple of teams. For players, it’s a year-round commitment, except for high school kids who halt club activities for three months while they participate on their school teams. It’s just not possible to do both at the same time.

Only 10 years old, the club is considered relatively young, but Ingrassia has already seen the benefits of his efforts, subliminal and otherwise.

“We’re starting to see it,” he said. “The first class of athletes I worked with are now entering their second or third year of college. We’ve got two full classes and this is our third class of possible kids from the Beach Futbol Club helping the program here. It’s exciting to see.”

Ingrassia’s efforts with the Beach Futbol Club have also been recognized on a much larger scale.

Recently, it was named one of the first 25 clubs across the country to work with the U.S. Soccer Development Academy in developing female athletes. Over time, the organization plans to select 70 clubs to participate in this endeavor. The Beach Futbol Club was initially chosen (just one of eight in Southern California) because of the leadership, the coaching and the geography.

“This a pretty big deal,” he acknowledged, “and it’s wonderful for us. It really recognizes our club as one of the elite clubs in the country. This legitimizes what we are doing and we’ll attract more talent, which will help in many ways. I think this is a good thing because it’s going to concentrate all the top talent and make players better.”

He also believes it’s the kind of thing that has helped put Long Beach on the map and become well known nationally.

“Long Beach State, the Beach Futbol Club and Long Beach as a soccer city has really become prominent,” he said. “Everybody knows there are some good things going on here.”