“Look,” he declared. “I’m going to tell you this, and now it’s up to you guys to accomplish it and to believe it — but you guys are good! Now we just need to get organized so you can go be good.”Today, eight months later, he recalls, “And it took a couple of weeks, it took a couple of wins. Then you could see it in their eyes: ‘We are good!’ And then once I got them to feel that way, well, now there’s a responsibility in being good: ‘You need to keep your grades up. You need to keep everything organized so that we can continue to be a team moving forward.’”And forward the St. Anastasia Panthers did, indeed, go. The junior high kids went on to win their Pac Ten league and made it to the “elite eight” in the Catholic Youth Organization of Los Angeles’ NCAA-style season-ending elimination tournament. No small feat, with more than 180 elementary schools in the Los Angeles Archdiocese fielding flag football teams last fall. Many of the same players also later competed in basketball and volleyball for St. Anastasia, winning league titles in both sports. In basketball, the team made it to round one in the playoffs and placed a solid third in volleyball. To top things off, this spring at the annual CYO sports banquet the 33-year-old Galvan was named “Coach of the Year.” In addition, a number of his players were Achievement Award winners, including Taylor Aguilera (flag football), Davis Boehle (volleyball), Steven Chavez (flag football, volleyball) and Andrew Johnson (volleyball). More honors for the parochial school at Manchester Avenue included Achievement Award winners Cameron McDermott (soccer and softball), Tristin Balsz (volleyball), Ella Bess (soccer) and Annika Pearson (softball). Life lessonsSo what makes a good coach these days?“Ultimately, you need to be in it for the right reason, which is for the kids,” Galvan says. “It’s not about winning or losing. There’s so many life lessons in sports. I always talk to the kids about overcoming adversity. Well, that’s a life lesson which has nothing to do with sports, but you can learn that through sports. During games when you call time out and you’re down by 10 points, well, you fold and just go home, or we can fight back and go get ‘em.“And you need to be concerned with how they’re doing also in the classroom, because it’s not just sports. You really need to care. And you need to be patient, but at the same time I think it’s important to establish discipline, which is another life lesson. All my boys know that there’s a line that can’t be crossed. And when it is, as a team we’re going to pay the consequences, which is running extra laps or whatever.“It’s not about ‘that’ game, as exciting as that game could be,” he stresses. “It’s the big picture. The kids have to know what it takes to get the job done — to succeed, not to win, to succeed. The boys this year played over their heads, every single one of them. In the beginning, they didn’t know that was in them.”Plus, there’s the classic job requirement for a coach, at any level, to be an outstanding motivator. He says that really boils down to just being positive and energetic. Coaches are basically teachers, and good teachers get excited about what they’re teaching. Galvan is drawn to folks like Tommy Lasorda, Lew Holtz and, of course, John Wooden, and the way they personified an enthusiastic outlook both on and off playing fields and courts. Galvan’s first coach was his dad, who got him excited about sports like Little League baseball. Then he talks about his freshman baseball coach at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Coach Kramer. The soft-spoken man simply loved the game and would expound on its attractions and intricacies to anyone willing to listen. “I love coaching, and it’s not even which sport I’m doing,” the husband and father points out. “It’s just what lesson that you’re going to give kids, lessons I’ve taken from sports growing up. My dad was a coach of mine, so we still have that relationship. Motivation is energy, the passion. And I love sports, so it’s easy to motivate, to be excited about something that I love. “I mean, if I could coach all day long, that’s what I would do,” he says with a spreading smile. “When I get here after school, I’ve got two hours to be excited about life.” ‘Microcosm of life’In 1998, Galvan started coaching at St. Augustine School in Culver City to put himself through Cal State Northridge, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and pitched on the baseball team all four years. He has also coached at American Martyrs in Manhattan Beach, St. Mark in Venice and Loyola High School in Los Angeles, where he was the assistant coach of the Cubs’ baseball team. Then to make ends meet he and wife, Suzie, started their own real estate company, MSG Enterprises, specializing in property management and sales in West Los Angeles. Long work hours took him away from sports for a couple years until she remarked one day, “You’ve got to start coaching again.” With a quick laugh and head shake, he says his wife was dead right because he really needed to get back to his true passion, “which kept me going and healthy.” So he took a part-time position at St. Bernardine of Siena School in Woodland Hills, driving an hour each way three times a week for 90-minute practices. Then this school year he started at St. Anastasia, which is only 10 minutes away from home. Still, he says he wouldn’t be able to pursue his passion unless Suzie “picked up a lot of slack” both at work, manning the phones, and taking care of their two young daughters, Julia, 3, and Sophia, 1. This month Galvan is also kicking off a nonprofit to share his dedication to sports with inner-city schools that currently can’t afford these extra-curricular activities or have poorly-run programs. “I think sports are so important today,” he notes. “They give kids such an outlet, and they’re so healthy for their minds and bodies, obviously. Our vision is strengthening schools through sports.“Sports are a little microcosm of life, which is why I want to bring quality programs to more schools. Sports are really good for children, whether they’re athletic or not. If you can be part of a team, it’s just good for you. And when there are school situations where sports are not being offered, it makes me sad. I mean, I don’t think it’s fair.“So that’s our big picture,” he adds. “And I’ll be doing that soon.” To learn more about Nick Galvan’s new sports nonprofit, contact him at [email protected].{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0701/olacyo/{/gallery}