Victor Santillan went far beyond his position as a coach. (Photo courtesy of New Jersey Youth Soccer)

EAST WINDSOR, N.J. – New Jersey Youth Soccer has announced that Victor Santillan of the Florham Park Youth Soccer Association was its 2021 NJYS recreation coach of the year.

As part of his acknowledgement, Santillan participated in an interview with NJ/NYGotham FC defender Estelle Johnson.

“It is an honor to be recognized by New Jersey Youth Soccer as the 2021 recreation coach of the year,” Santillan said in a statement. “Nothing makes me prouder than to see kids play soccer, not only in the fall, but throughout the year. Seeing kids with smiles on their faces playing this beautiful game of soccer is and has always been the reason why I coach.”

Santillan has been an ambassador for soccer in his community. He has been dedicated to growing the game while creating a safe and fun environment for each player, according to NJYS. In previous years, recreation soccer ended at third grade in his township, which meant that kids in fourth grade and above had no place to play recreationally. Looking to change that, Santillan set his sights on expanding the space for recreation soccer throughout his community. His hard work has played a critical role in making soccer remain available for hundreds of kids in the surrounding area.

One of Santillan’s fondest memories at the Florham Park Youth Soccer Association surrounded a player in the program who was on the autistic spectrum. He organized a moment during a game in which the players on both teams would help this child score a goal. There was not a dry eye in the house.