Sports community mourns coach Gonzaga
Fund set up to help family of baseball 'champion'
The baseball community was struck hard when longtime Little League coach Joselito Gonzaga died suddenly of a heart attack Sept. 14 at the age of 48, and a fund has been opened to help his family.
"He was a sweetheart of a man, the nicest man I've ever met outside of my father," said David Ott, special assistant to the president of the Pleasanton Foothill Little League. "I met him in 2006. We were coaching together in PFLL for 7-8-year-old boys and girls. He was always there to help people."
They continued coaching and managing teams until their sons turned 10 and began to play for District 57 All-Star teams.
"When the boys were 10, 11 and 12, from February to May we would coach against each other," Ott recalled. "Then from June to the end of July we coached together almost every day."
"Everybody loves to play All-Star Little League so we would do three or four of these tournaments throughout the summer," Ott said. "We would laugh and cry together. He was always there to help people."
Not just the baseball community felt the loss, Ott said, noting that Gonzaga also coached youth football, basketball and girls softball.
On Sunday, the Pleasanton RAGE Black U10 dedicated their game against the Dublin United Firecrackers to Gonzaga, who was the father of goalie Kayla Gonzaga. Team members wore blue and white ribbons emblazoned with Joselito's coaching motto: "No excuses." Kayla made several critical saves, it was reported.
Gonzaga was born Dec. 14, 1963, in the Philippines and came to California in 1969. His family settled in Daly City where he was a star athlete, playing baseball, basketball and football. He earned a degree in physical education at San Francisco State University and lived all around the Bay Area before settling in Pleasanton.
"He was our leader by example of patience," Ott said. "He helped the rest of us to stay calm."
Gonzaga not only knew people through sports, Ott pointed out. He knew hundreds through his work as a massage therapist at Club Sport. His memorial service, held at the baseball fields at Bernal Community Park, drew around 700 people, Ott said.
At the memorial service, the Pleasanton Foothill Little League presented the Junior 90's District 57 Tournament of Champions banner won by his 13-14 year old Junior 90's Little League team to his wife, Kimberlee Gonzaga, to be buried with him.
"It's worth its weight in gold -- if anyone deserves it, it's Joselito," Ott said. "He taught them a lot about baseball and a lot about character. He went out a champion in baseball."
The Joselito M. Gonzaga Fund has been set up at Wells Fargo Bank to benefit Gonzaga's wife and children, Kourtney Renee, Jadon Tyler and Kayla Rae. Contributions can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank.