McCORDSVILLE — When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
That’s what Gilberto Pineda Jr. — aka “G” — did when he received a pink slip from his prior full-time employer.
He took his sudden increase in free time to pursue a business idea he’d been mulling for about five years.
Pineda, 31, who was born in Greenfield, graduated from New Palestine High School in 2002. He now lives in Fishers and started his own soccer school in McCordsville, called Pineda Developmental Academy.
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The concept is simple — to offer individualized soccer instruction dictated by players’ needs, wants and schedules.
“The basis of the academy is the development of the individual player,” Pineda explained.
“No matter what, you’re trying to improve … so that you can attain the individual goal that you have.”
Pineda has been coaching for 17 years, which he said rightly equates to a starting age of 14.
“I was 3 years old when I started playing,” he said, noting that he played in a Warren Central Township league, for a Greenfield soccer club as well as the New Palestine High School team.
He went to college at Indiana University, focused on his education and after graduating in 2006 went on to work several jobs, including four years in production at an Indianapolis TV station and more than two years at a post office.
But, “the entire time I was coaching was just a part-time gig,” he said.
This spring, when his full-time job ended, he decided it was time to chase down an idea that had been simmering.
“It’s kind of a realization, kind of a years-in-the-making scenario,” he said.
Pineda is coach for Sporting Indiana FC soccer club’s U17 boys team. Sporting Indiana’s home fields are located at the McCordsville Sports Park, 5450 W. State Road 67.
Pineda said he is using those same fields there to teach Pineda Developmental Academy classes.
He said he’s received encouragement from the sport park owner as well as Sporting Indiana coach Matt Mayhew to start the academy.
“I do see a purpose for it, a need for it,” said Mayhew, who coaches the Mt. Vernon High School boys varsity team and hired Pineda as a coach for Sporting Indiana FC.
Mayhew said three of his players have trained with Pineda, and that it works as a supplement to coaching that players get on regular team basis.
“You don’t have a lot of time to work on individual skills with individual players,” Mayhew said.
Mayhew said Pineda has the ability to read players and can help them acquire the basic skills that are important in a player’s early years.
For the past several months he’s been learning the ropes about running a business while conducting a couple of one-week soccer training sessions.
Coming up, though, is a 13-week fall session, scheduled to run from Aug. 3 to Nov. 1, where “players will be able to create their own training schedule” to learn and improve their game, over and above what they may be doing with their school teams, travel teams or other activities.
Pineda said he had more than 20 students sign up for his first session in June and just a handful in July’s session, which was arranged last minute.
But he said he has high hopes for the fall session, which is just a couple of weeks away.
His hopes are not only based on the feedback he’s received from peers and players but also with the growing popularity of soccer.
“I definitely think there’s a place for the academy,” he said. “In central Indiana it’s growing, huge, and in Hancock County it’s growing as well.”
The location of the McCordsville Sports Park is perfect, Pineda said, accessible by less than a half hours drive by more than a half dozen communities and high schools in Hancock, Madison and Marion Counties.
During the recent soccer skills session, he had students from Mt. Vernon and Southern Hancock school districts and elsewhere.
“I think as the word continues to get out about this and what he’s trying to do, I think there will be (more demand),” Mayhew said.
Jarret Whitehouse, a central midfielder for the Mt. Vernon boys varsity team, was there in July taking pointers and working the ball with several other players.
“I trust his skill as a coach,” Whitehouse said, noting that Pineda is the coach of his travel team. “I’m asking him to help me refine what I need to do. He’s very good at identifying (areas that need improvement).”
Kyle Doss, who’s in the same year and plays the same position as Whitehouse, but for New Palestine, said he likes Pineda’s sessions because “it gets you a lot of touches on the ball,” and that can translate into new skills to be used in games.
Anthony Nagel of New Palestine starts seventh grade soon; he said he hasn’t played soccer in three years and has some catching up to do.
“I want to join the middle school team, so I need to get better,” Nagel said. “Dribbling, mostly, and I want to get some curves on my shots.”
He said he considered taking a two-day soccer camp closer to home but decided to join Pineda because it was a full week.
On the fourth day of the session, Nagel said he’d improved his dribbling, got faster and “learned how to control the ball more.”
That, Pineda said, is what he wants to see, players getting better.
“When you see players achieve their goals and have success, it’s rewarding in and of itself,” he said.
Pineda Developmental Academy
13-week fall session (ages 8-19) begins Aug. 3
10-week little kickers (ages 4-9) begins Saturday, Aug. 22