Westmont Magazine Coaching for Strength
Daniel Guzman ’12 started practicing with the Warrior soccer team before he graduated from high school, driving to campus from Valencia two or three afternoons a week.
He played for the team for four years while majoring in kinesiology, and he draws on these experiences as the lead performance coach for the Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC).
A certified strength and conditioning specialist, he knows what the human body can do— and what it feels like to push his own body to its physical limits. After working for a year as the head strength and conditioning coach for the men’s national soccer team, he also understands the demands, challenges and disappointments of professional sports.
Daniel followed family tradition when he went to Westmont as his father, Gus Guzman ’82, and his uncles Alfanso Guzman ’77 and Peter Guzman ’81, played soccer for the college. His three siblings joined him on campus and earned degrees in kinesiology; Erica ’14 is a nurse at Cottage Hospital, Michael ’16 works with athletes, and Jordan ’18 hopes to be an emergency helicopter nurse.
“My kinesiology professors invested so much in me,” Daniel says. “They truly cared about my development as a student and a believer.” An internship with Prevail Conditioning Performance Center in Santa Barbara led to a year-long job as a strength and performance coach. Internships with Athletes’ Performance in Los Angeles (now EXOS) gave him an opportunity to work with professional baseball, football and basketball athletes. But he had proposed to his wife, Lauren Martin ’12, and he needed a full-time job.
“My bank account was dwindling when LA Galaxy 2 offered me a position as head strength and conditioning coach,” he says. “God provided.” Daniel stayed with the club for more than two years before leaving with Coach Bruce Arena to work with the U.S. men’s national soccer team.
“It was a big challenge, and I jumped on it,” he says. But after a frustrating series of games, the team failed to qualify for the World Cup. “It was devastating and embarrassing,” he says. “The players were getting booed, and reporters were questioning us. I felt like I let my family down.”
Once again he needed a job, this time because Lauren was pregnant. Fortunately LAFC, a new Major League Soccer expansion team, was hiring. He joined the club in time for the preseason and worked with them during their successful first year. LAFC finished third in the Western Conference and made the playoffs, losing in the knockout round to Real Salt Lake.
“I traveled to every game and built relationships with the players, using strength and conditioning as medium to meet them where they are and share my life with them,” he says. “Professional athletes are people before they’re athletes, so I approach them first as people. I love every moment of my job.”
Lauren, who majored in art, worked for an advertising agency until their daughter, Ivy, was born in March. “We’re thankful she can stay home with the baby,” Daniel says. Laruen also comes from a Westmont family as her father, Alan Martin ’83, an executive at LPS Property Tax Solutions, and sisters Erica Martin ’10, a social worker, and Tessa Martin ’14, all graduated.
“Westmont made such a big impact on my life,” Daniel says. “I was able to make my faith my own there. My professors brought Christianity into their classes in such a natural way and were willing to discuss it and answer any question.”