Funny how finding a picture can unleash all kinds of emotions. Jefe found the picture above a few weeks ago while cleaning out an old filing cabinet. In it are two former football players (Brian Head and Che Still) he had coached at their high school graduation. Sadly, Che is no longer with us.
It has been three years to the day since Che was taken away from us in a plane crash. Below were some thoughts Jefe had about him a few days after he passed.
The look on his face said it all – disbelief, joy, and relief. Che had just caught a laser of a pass from Lamar Broadway and scored the decisive touchdown of Corona Centennial’s first football CIF championship. There’s a picture of that moment in Coach Logan’s office. It was an up and down year for Che because he had so many catches…and so many dropped passes. Guys on the team would mess with Che and call him “stone hands”. But that one catch, that one moment, said it all.
I ran into Che at the gym during the summer. He was yoked out! Not the same skinny kid I remembered coaching. We talked more than we worked out. The hour and a half I was supposed to be getting my swole on, I spent talking with Che. It was great catching up. He asked if I had seen or talked to any of the guys from the team. We then talked about the recent Centennial team that just went to the state championship game. I told him that as good as they were, there was nothing like the first championship team from which he played.
Of course, we talked about that season and the championship game against Elsinore. Then, Che told me something I never knew about the play where he caught the winning pass. Terry Richardson, our All-World wide out, had told Che that the pass would go to him because Terry was going to be double covered. To me, that spoke volumes because 1)Terry was just a freak of nature – a great athlete who would and could catch everything; 2)Lamar had enough confidence to throw to Che even though he had dropped some passes; and 3)Che knowing that the ball would come his way, had the courage and the confidence to forget past failures and focus on the moment and the goal that was ahead. That is what heart is about. That is what Che was about.
I’m going to miss him. His easy smile and soft mannered way. I’m feeling the tears well up even now as I remember giving him a hug and telling him, “I’ll see you soon.” Soon never came and almost two months later, I’m making plans to go to his funeral.
Life is but a vapor and tomorrow holds no guarantee. Hold close those who are dear. Call somebody you haven’t talked to in a while. Reconcile what needs to be. Never be afraid to love.
Dedicated to Che and all former players I have coached.