Valley mourns death of popular coach

FRESNO, Calif.

Ogbodo was a fierce competitor but he had a soft spot for kids who wanted to learn the game. His warmth made him a favorite among families.

Christian Ogbodo's friends, family and former players gathered at mid-field at Lamonica Stadium Wednesday evening to honor his memory.

Ogbodo spent 10 years coaching at Clovis High. Clovis High teacher Jon Howerton explained, "When he died it was such a shock to all of us and immediately former players who played in this program and I'm talking going back to 1989, 1990. These kids started contacting me."

Ogbodo came from Nigeria to star at Fresno State between 1984 and 1987. Christian got his friend Femi Olukanni to come along and help Coach Jose Elgorriaga's team attain a number-one ranking in 1987.

Clovis North soccer coach /*Chad McCarty*/ recalled, "When I was coming up in the 80's Christian at Fresno State was pretty much the reason why we went to watch the games. Him and Femi both."

/*Christian Ogbodo*/ would later coach and mentor Chad McCarty at Clovis High. Chad said, "His passion for life and his enthusiasm for soccer. He was really open and an honest person. He had high integrity so you just had that feeling when you were around him you were safe."

McCarty said Ogbodo had a major impact on his life. Chad would grow up to become team captain for the US Olympic soccer team in 2000. "I can still hear him chasing me up the hill chasing me dribbling a ball. Confidence Chad, confidence. Work harder, push harder."

Ogbodo coached numerous kids in youth soccer leagues. His impact is evident in this Facebook page "Celebrating the Life of Christian Chijioke Ogbodo."

Chad said Christian was part of everyone's family because of his warmth. "Christian was a gift to our Valley."

Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.

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