SOMETIMES, you ask, why must good people be taken early? None makes me ask more so than Ralph Eben Plaza, the Don Bosco Technology Center coach who died on Nov. 7 after a months-long battle with cancer.
One of the things I’ve learned from talking with parents in sports, and one that I got to experience myself first-hand, is that you never forget your kid’s first coach. Though for some, it was for something negative but for most, and I count myself lucky, it was for something positive.
For almost a year, my then Carolinian son was a Don Bosco footballer, or, as what John, the brother of another DB coach Ray said, a “Fil-Am,” half Carolinian, half Bosconian. He spent most of his time under coach Ralph, winning a silver in the Aboitiz once and a gold in a couple of weekend tournaments. But it’s the work done before tournaments that stick in you and like other good coaches in Cebu, coach Ralph did all the work.
Which is not surprising considering that at the University of Cebu, that hardworking team which nobody expected to win the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. title won it all when nobody expected it. Coach Glen Ramos led the team and I wasn’t surprised that he joined the Don Bosco coaching staff after graduating from college.
He took care of the kids and it hearkens to know that the community took care of him. I learned of how some parents dug deep to help him in these last few months and it speaks well for the DB community. I could mention names and what they have done but it’s not my place to do so.
The last time I saw coach Plaza was when he was in the hospital last February. I always wanted to visit him but couldn’t find the time. Then a chance meeting with Coach Ray at a parking lot finally gave me the opportunity.
It was also Coach Ray, who have come to treat Plaza as a son, who confirmed the news of his passing.
Gone to soon. He could have done so much more.
And ours is not to know the reason why.
Ours is to cherish the memory of coach Ralph’s brief life. The coach who patiently taught our kids how to throw in properly, or told them to wait as he rotated his players. Or how he consoled players in their losses and told winners to be magnanimous.
Rest in peace, coach. May you continue to guide kids up there and ride your motorcycle in your free time.