The student news site of Watchung Hills Regional High School

The Arrowhead

  • January 23Got a question/concern? Email it to our ask columist @ [email protected]

  • September 30Follow The Arrowhead on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @whrhsarrowhead!

Alumni Return to the Field for Coach Cruz

Current and former students participate in a soccer game in remembrance of Señor Cruz

Renee Cabato, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Past and present students gathered at Watchung Hills’ Tozier Stadium to play soccer in honor of beloved coach and teacher Juan Carlos Cruz on Friday, November 25. The “Cruz Alumni Game”, organized by soccer coaches Justin Salton and Greg Leonow, allowed for Watchung Hills alumni soccer players to return to the field in remembrance of Coach Cruz, the school’s Junior Varsity soccer coach.  

Juan Carlos Cruz passed away on October 29, 2016, leaving Watchung Hills devastated at the loss of his kind-hearted character as a coach and teacher. The school has had multiple events in his honor, including a “Señor Cruz Day” where both students and teachers wore soccer apparel or red and blue clothing to symbolize Mr. Cruz’s favorite team: FC Barcelona.

The “Cruz Alumni Game” involved teams comprised of former and current Watchung Hills soccer players. Teachers, parents and other students watched the teams battle on the turf, which was split up evenly to allow three mini games at once. Skyler Weisberg, a graduate of Watchung Hills, announced the game, noting goals on any of the courts and alerting the teams of when to rotate on the field. The athletes all suited up once again and relived their sentimental memories on the field, all in honor of Señor Cruz.

"Cruz Alumni Game"

Renee Cabato
“Cruz Alumni Game”

Both the players and spectators felt mixed emotions for the game, excited to witness or experience the rush and competitiveness on the field, yet heavy-hearted for the reason they had returned.

Rachel Cabato (junior), a former student to Señor Cruz, emphasized that, “Being there, even though it was cold and rainy, was completely worth watching… [she] loved seeing the aggressiveness on the field, and how it was all for Coach Cruz.”

Overall, despite the rainy and somber weather, players were happy to experience the game “just like old times,” as expressed by a few of the alumni. Elated grins and joyful reunions between players and teachers pervaded the stadium.

“It is always a special feeling when you see former players because I operate under the belief that they are part of my family,” said varsity assistant coach Justin Salton, “Seeing former players brings back a lot of memories and it is always great to see how they have grown and matured over the years.”

Salton described the alumni game as “a great event for a great person.” He personally felt the mix of emotions, pleased to see the turnout and impact of Coach Cruz, yet sorrowful to remember that Cruz’s passionate and caring presence will never grace Watchung Hills’ fields again.

Salton hopes to make the alumni game an annual event, seeing how touching it was for the community to come together and honor Coach Cruz. He continues to recognize Cruz’s positive influence on the school by honoring him at the first home basketball game on Friday, December 16th.

Facing despair at the loss of such a prominent mentor, teacher, and coach, it was and continues to be important to gather as a community. Coach Salton notes, “All these events are great, but […] the most important thing is to live life with the values that Coach Cruz instilled in so many people and never forget.”

Additionally, the school is collecting donations for the Juan Carlos Cruz Scholarship fund, a scholarship created in honor of Mr. Cruz. For more information, contact head soccer coach Mr. Greg Leonow at [email protected].

Print Friendly

Leave a Comment

Comments are subject to moderation.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Alumni Return to the Field for Coach Cruz

    A&E

    Dance Ensemble’s Annual Showcase Amazes Audiences

  • Alumni Return to the Field for Coach Cruz

    Showcase

    Watchung Hills High School Adds to its Hall of Fame

  • Alumni Return to the Field for Coach Cruz

    Showcase

    Lady Lax Salutes Seniors

  • Alumni Return to the Field for Coach Cruz

    A&E

    Summer Fashion at Watchung Hills

  • A&E

    2017’s Show-Stopping Met Gala

  • Alumni Return to the Field for Coach Cruz

    Showcase

    They are Simply Just That Good

  • Alumni Return to the Field for Coach Cruz

    Showcase

    Mock Trial Finds Spring Recruits

  • Alumni Return to the Field for Coach Cruz

    Showcase

    Generation Z Going to Gerber Baby Food

  • Alumni Return to the Field for Coach Cruz

    A&E

    Dance the Night Away

  • Alumni Return to the Field for Coach Cruz

    Showcase

    Enthusiasm and Passion Mark the History Bowl Team’s Venture to Nationals

The student news site of Watchung Hills Regional High School
Alumni Return to the Field for Coach Cruz