How a Community Came Together To Save Him!

Brandie Altuna and Kaitlyn Valenzuela  

Chino – “He’s safe!” whispered Principal Dr. Cabrera, as she walked out of the Chino Valley Unified School District office. After that board meeting, everyone was relieved. However, earlier that afternoon, anxiety and frustration flooded the room. Daniel Pahutan About 200+ people showed up to support Coach Gano. It was surreal to see how many people cared for their beloved coach. The community was brought together on this night. Determined to have their voices heard, there were 200+ Don Lugo students, parents, community members, and coaches piled into the boardroom at the school district with handmade posters. One by one, football players and parents trepidatiously stepped up to the mic to explain how Coach wasn’t just their coach, but a father figure. It was a heart-wrenching sight. The toughest football players “allowed themselves to be vulnerable and honest to rightfully save a man’s job.” Coach Gano is not just a coach but he is also a teacher — a job that he lives off of financially. Devastation arose when news circulated that Coach Gano would possibly not be returning to Don Lugo after confidential allegations were made. A school board meeting was scheduled to be held that would address the potential fate of his job. Parents and students took to social media with the hashtag “SaveGano” and were determined to keep Gano’s position. “We were going to lose a member of the Conquistador family,” comments Principal Dr. Cabrera. She had an idea that a number of supporters were going to show up but she did not know that many people would attend. Coach Gano later saw pictures of several students who went and commented, “there were kids from my P.E. class who don’t even play for me, they’re my students!” Gano’s true passion is taking care of kids. It has become his duty and that is exactly what coaching means to him. Coach Gano has provided for so many of his athletes and makes sure that they have all the necessary needs in order to live and breathe. He’s not just a coach to these young men. He is a father figure to all who need the father figure that all young men deserve. As testimonies are heard, the rest of the Don Lugo community can only sit and wait for the final word. When Gano got the news that he was going to keep his job as a teacher at Don Lugo, he was quite emotional over the phone according to Dr. Cabrera. “He immediately sat down and took a deep breath when he got the news,” says Athletic Director Coach Donoho. Both Coach Gano and Coach Donoho were located at the first round of the Girls’ Basketball CIF game on that same night. Everyone quickly drove over to the school to congratulate Coach Gano in person. Coach Donoho recounts, “People started randomly showing up, giving him hugs, and congratulating him.” There was no doubt that the entire Conquistador family was excited, relieved, and happy to know that their coach and teacher was going to stay. The impact that Coach Gano has on both Don Lugo and the community, is beyond incredible. He has led the football team to win the Milkcan two years in a row and make it to CIF. He has brought the entire Conquistador family together; he is the epitome of what a Conquistador leader means to all and he will continue to be appreciated by his family and friends but most importantly, his Don Lugo family.