This post is updated at the bottom with a statement from James Logan coach Steve Burmaster.
American High boys volleyball coach Eric Cruzada died Monday apparently of a heart attack, the school’s co-athletic director Tom Bischofberger confirmed Tuesday.
“He’s had some health issues the last few weeks, but nobody thought it’d be as severe as this,” Bischofberger said. “He thought it was just minor little things going on, stress-related stuff.”
Bischofberger said an autopsy had not been performed yet but the belief is Cruzada died from a heart attack. He said Cruzada was 42 and a freelance web designer who worked from home, where he lived with his wife and 5-year-old daughter.
Cruzada had coached at American for over six years and had this year’s team in contention for a North Coast Section at-large playoff berth.
“He took our boys program from nothing to being an NCS-caliber team,” Bischofberger said.
He also coached the junior varsity girls team and the junior high feeder program at Thornton Junior High.
Bischofberger said the players were informed of Cruzada’s death in between second and third period Tuesday and the news “looked like it hit them with a ton of bricks.”
The school has counselors available and the team will also meet again Tuesday afternoon to make a decision on finishing out the season.
The Eagles (15-11, 7-3 Mission Valley Athletic League) have two games remaining on the schedule. Tuesday night’s game against James Logan has been postponed until further notice.
Here’s a statement from James Logan coach Steve Burmaster on Cruzada’s passing. I thought it would be nice to post it in full here.
“I am shocked and dismayed by the news surrounding the death of Coach Eric Cruzada. Besides being a very ‘good guy’, someone that truly cared about his players and enjoyed the camaraderie of competition; Coach Cruzada was an outstanding volleyball coach at American High School. Over that past 3 years, we have enjoyed some amazing, competitive Boys’ Varsity Volleyball matches between James Logan High School and American High School.
Last year we played a marathon match that lasted 5 very long games at their place and while we were able to squeak out a win, both players and coaches left that night knowing that we had all been a part of a very special event (it happened to be their senior night). Earlier this year, American defeated us in a long 4 games, again at their place and tonight were were going to play the re-match at our place…this time it was going to be our “senior night”. We were all looking forward to playing this match because of the friendly rivalry we have developed between our teams.
It won’t be the same without Coach Cruzada there. We are going to miss him and all that he has done for his teams at American. He has been an outstanding competitor, a great motivator, and has helped develop an excellent program with his work at both the middle school and American High School over a several year period (many of his players have played for him at both the middle school level and then at the high school level).
He was a awesome ambassador for volleyball, a great family man, and an outstanding role model. There is no way that American High School is going to be able to replace Coach Eric Cruzada, there are not many men like him and he will be sorely missed by everyone connected with the American High School volleyball family.”