Central High School football coach loses his battle with cancer

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The death of 41-year-old Justin Garza has shaken the Central High School community.

Garza's enthusiasm never wavered during his long battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

During his three years as Central's head coach, Garza led the grizzlies to the valley championship game in 2012 and a TRAC title in 2013.

"I think more than that he was an inspiration to our boys and really taught them more than just football. He taught them about life. He taught them about being a man and what they needed to do to represent themselves and the community," said Central Unified Superintendent Mark Sutton.

Garza also coached football at Reedley High and Sunnyside High, so when he became ill friends and colleagues at different schools helped raise awareness about the bone marrow registry.

Garza underwent a bone marrow transplant in 2014 but word came Monday night he had passed away.

"It was difficult news to internalize," said former Central High principal Jack Kelejian.

Kelejian was Central High principal when Garza was an assistant coach and science teacher for five years.

"One of the greatest things about Justin was how wonderful a teacher he was and really brought that energy to our school and really was infectious, not only with students but his colleagues as well."

Garza is survived by his wife Regina and two young children.
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