WARREN, NJ - Both teams on the court Friday night had 1000 point scorers. Tony Godwin for North Plainfield and Dan Pilsbury for Watchung Hills. And gym 5/6 was packed for Juan Carlos Cruz night to see the two teams face off and support the Cruz family. Watchung Hills topped North Plainfield, 61-40.
Tony Godwin hit four three-pointers to lead all scorers with 22 points for North Plainfield. Chad Martini put up 12 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, Steven Bressler added 11 points, and Dan Pilsbury chipped in 10 points for Watchung Hills.
“Great night for a win in honor of a great person in Juan Carlos Cruz,” said WHRHS head coach Justin Salton. “ Last year we we weren't able to secure a win for him, so we are happy we were able to come out on top this time around. As a coach, we worried about how we would respond coming off an emotionally tough previous night losing in the conference championship. Our boys answered that challenge early with a huge 25-4 first quarter. We have two more big county games (Tuesday is also Senior Night) before the county seeding meeting to secure a quality seed. This family is special.”
Cruz died unexpectedly on Oct. 29, 2016.
A Facebook page has been started entitled Cruz around the world and it reads: With a school initiative of "mindfulness" as the inspiration, we have created "CRUZ Around the World" to promote students' pursuit of passion in honor of Juan Carlos Cruz. Papi was passionate about people, soccer, travel and food. More importantly, he was dedicated to the personal growth of every student he taught or coached. Juan Carlos Cruz worked as a Spanish teacher and was the Head JV coach at Watchung Hills Regional High School for twelve years. An avid soccer fan, he cheered for Barcelona. Through collaboration between Health, World History, Spanish, and Special Education, students will participate in a photo tribute to Juan Carlos while developing an area in each academic discipline. Students, family, and friends will take selfies wearing their Cruz shirt, bracelet, or Barca colors either at their favorite destination in the world or participating in an activity they are passionate about. In History, students can examine the location or activity that brings them joy. In Health, students can assess the value added to their sense of identity/well-being that pursuing their passion or decompressing in their favorite place brings to their overall health. In Spanish, students can express their passion and develop their vocabulary in another language. The photos will allow his legacy to carry on in our classrooms. The overall lessons will remind us to live life to the fullest and pursue our passions. Start sending in your pictures with your Cruz shirt and location and help bring Cruz around the world. Please pass this along!
The gofundme page started at that time by Kyle Perreira reads:
This is coach Cruz. He was the JV coach for Watchung Hills Regional High School. To most students, he wasn't just a teacher. Coming to school everyday with nice shoes and flower socks he was our friend. He showed love to every student and wanted all of them to succeed. For the past 6 months all he talked about was his baby that was coming soon. He put family and his students before anything else. His life was cut short when he passed away this Saturday October 29. We ask for your financial support to help his pregnant wife and baby that will be coming in a couple of months. Thank you so much for your support.
Baby Cruz is now almost a year old.