St. Genevieve wins boys’ soccer title after coach’s most cancers prognosis

It felt unusual when Jose Mejia Sr. wasn’t there the primary day at follow, the longtime assistant coach’s presence missed when operating laps and hopping into drills and sharing some trademark knowledge.

Afterward, St. Genevieve High boys’ soccer coach Jose Mejia Jr. gathered his crew with a heavy coronary heart and informed them the information — his father had been identified with bladder most cancers. Four levels of chemotherapy had been forward.

Faces fell and tears flowed, a crew of principally seniors attempting to grapple with the fact {that a} beloved mentor won’t return. Mejia Jr. was the coach, his dad was the “professor.”

“It kinda broke all of our hearts,” senior Beto Chavez mentioned.

When Mejia Sr. spoke, you listened. You listened in the event you had been Chavez, who feels the assistant coach took him below his wing ever since he was a freshman, instructing him easy methods to use his toes and easy methods to be robust mentally. You listened in the event you had been Mejia Jr., who figured so long as he was fortunate sufficient to hold a relationship together with his father, he ought to take his recommendation.

And with a voice gone, it galvanized a crew on a small Panorama City campus of 525 children, from a college that hadn’t gained a CIF title in any sport for greater than 40 years.

“We took it as a motive to do even more, not only for ourselves, but for our coach and his father as well,” Chavez mentioned.

You gained’t see a rollicking parade or prolonged fanfare for a Southern Section Division 7 championship, Mejia Jr. is aware of. But after a 6-20-2 report the earlier two seasons, the St. Genevieve boys streaked all the way in which to the playoffs — Mejia Sr. making a return 4 video games in — and beat Oxford Academy 3-1 on Saturday to take house a title.

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His father, Mejia Jr. mentioned, has at all times been mentally robust. So when the 2 embraced after the win, Mejia Sr.’s eyes had been dry. His son was the one crying.

“If I don’t ever win another championship again, I’ll be fine … I’m done,” Mejia Jr. mentioned. “This was the best one. It can’t get any better.”

It could also be Mejia Sr.’s closing yr teaching, the crew nonetheless preventing for extra with a 3-1 win over Reseda on Tuesday to advance to the second spherical of the state Division 5 event. In mid-March after the season, Mejia Jr. mentioned, his father must bear a process to take away his bladder.

Before the playoffs started, the crew gathered for a speech from the Spanish-speaking Mejia Sr., who implored his son to interpret.

“Who’s the king of the jungle?” Mejia Sr. requested, his son remembered decoding.

“The lion,” the crew responded.

“Why is he the king?” Mejia Sr. requested.

They turned quiet. Was he the quickest, the elder Mejia requested? No. The strongest? No.

Eventually, one of many boys understood. It was due to the lion’s mentality, they answered.

“If you think like a lion, if your mentality’s strong,” Mejia Jr. remembered decoding from his father, “doesn’t matter if the other team’s faster or stronger.”

“If your mentality’s strong,” he continued, “you’re going to be kings.”