Midfielder served as role model
Published: Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 20:05
Andrew Manriquez, a Contra Costa College sophomore and Comet midfielder, had a youthful vigor and a passion for soccer he couldn't keep to himself.
Outside of his own education, Manriquez taught and coached a league soccer team at Bayview Elementary School in San Pablo where he amused, inspired and was adored by his players.
But when the news touched down that their coach would never be coming back, Manriquez's players were stunned into near disbelief. The sport that they so loved now seemed unappealing.
"He would always make them laugh, and now they don't want to play soccer because he isn't going to be their coach anymore," brother Santiago Manriquez Jr. said.
Manriquez was struck down by gunfire in Richmond on April 8. He was 19.
"He was a very good example for the kids of the community," said Manriquez's mother, Juana Hueto, choking back tears. "He liked helping kids a lot, they would tell him he was a good person, a good friend."
Though many described him as mellow and reserved, Manriquez's bright personality and sense of humor made him an easily likable guy, and a friend of many.
"He would be serious, but he would like to make people laugh, especially the kids," Hueto said. "He had lots of friends from everywhere."
Longtime friend Cassius Botelho agreed.
"He had a great sense of humor, he never let an awkward moment pass by," he said.
Throughout the community, Manriquez's violent death has sparked anger and outrage, leaving many at a loss for an explanation.
"A lot of people couldn't understand. He was just loved by a lot of people, he touched a lot of people," said Botelho, a fellow Comet midfielder who grew up playing with Manriquez.
Men's soccer coach Rudy Zeller said Manriquez was a "wonderful young man" as well as a respectful and committed player.
"He was there full of life Thursday, and Friday night he was no longer with us," men's soccer coach Rudy Zeller said. "It was a totally senseless and cynical act."
Francisco Navarro, who played midfielder alongside Manriquez, said, "When I found out, I couldn't believe it. I said, ‘It can't be him. It can't be him.' He wasn't a person who went out looking for trouble."
In memorializing Manriquez's death, the team has vowed to play hard for him in the coming season, Botelho said.
"That's what he loved to do and that's what he would want us to do," he said.
Botelho added that Manriquez's friends continue to talk about him every day, and that his legacy will endure through memory.
Botelho encouraged grievers to "remember the good memories you had with him and Andy will live on through that."
Manriquez's brother Santiago remembered him as a protective, caring brother and expressed a similar sentiment.
"I don't feel like he's gone. I feel like he's still with me," he said. "At times when it's quiet, I just think about him and start crying."
Like many CCC student-athletes, Manriquez was in the process of fully acclimating himself to college and was showing acute progress.
"He was still really figuring out what he was doing, but he had the right attitude. It's a real shame," astronomy department Chairman Jon Celesia said.
"He was giving a very worthy try and it was tragic," said Mark Leavitt, Manriquez's Art Appreciation teacher. "I think (the students) were sad because it was such a young forward-moving kid."
Manriquez's mother said he planned on transferring to a four-year university and aspired to play soccer professionally, maybe for Mexican soccer team Monarcas Morelia. If that didn't work out, she said, he wanted to be an automotive mechanic.
Manriquez was born in Los Angeles and moved with family to San Pablo at the age of 8. He attended Lake Elementary School, Helms Middle School and graduated from De Anza High School in 2009. He then enrolled at CCC.
Manriquez is survived by his mother Juana Hueto, his father Santiago Manriquez, his brothers, Santiago Manriquez Jr. and Eric Hueto, his uncle Pablo Hueto and his girlfriend of nine months Karen Cabrera.