By Tom Maguire

Associate editor

   Bishop Ludden Junior-Senior High School boys varsity soccer Coach Oscar Vergara has been named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Private/Parochial School East Region Coach of the Year. The East Region covers New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

   Last month, Coach Vergara was named the (NSCAA) New York State Private/Parochial School Coach of the Year for the third time. This season’s highlight was the Section 3 Class C championship, when the Gaelic Knights beat Mount Markham 2-0.

   With his latest award, Coach Vergara is now in contention for the National Coach of the Year award, which will be presented next month.

   “My goodness, sounds weird to say that,” Coach Vergara said of his contention for the national prize. He said he is grateful that the regional honor casts a good light on Bishop Ludden. He has coached soccer for 42 years, most of them at Ludden, his alma mater.

   “Bishop Ludden is very proud of Coach Vergara being named East Region Coach of the Year,” Bishop Ludden Athletic Director Gallagher Driscoll said in an email. “He is a perfect example of what Bishop Ludden is all about! He holds himself and his players to high standards on and off the playing field.

   “Obviously he hopes his players develop on the field but he is more concerned with them developing as people off the field. He is very deserving of this award and we are very proud to call him Coach!”

   Coach Vergara is the Program Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Onondaga County. He also has been busy lately with Project Smiles, which collects gently used clothes, shoes, school supplies, stuffed animals, and other items to give to underprivileged children in his South American hometown of Medellin, Colombia, at Christmastime. 

   He has been running Project Smiles for 15 years. This year, he said, he has gotten excellent Project Smiles contributions from donors including people from Bishop Ludden, Bishop Grimes Junior-Senior High School, and Manlius Pebble Hill School.

   A sample care package for Project Smiles beneficiaries this year, Coach Vergara said, might include toothpaste, a toothbrush, shampoo, pens and markers, a stuffed animal, a blouse or two, or a blouse and a pair of pants. He has already shipped the items to Colombia.

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