BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — He was a person that impacted the lives of many different student-athletes across three different communities in Kern County.
Wednesday lots of those people gathered to remember him, for how he inspired people on and off the basketball court.
At the McFarland High School quad area, where Mr. Alaniz spent the past two years mentoring and shaping the lives of many kids, is where the community, students, and staff gathered to commemorate him.
“He was someone who believed in you, he believed in me when I did not believe in myself.”
They met almost 20 years ago when Dwight Curry was a freshman at Delano High School and Fernando Alaniz was the coach of the basketball team.
Curry had given up on basketball, but he says Mr. Alaniz called him personally to invite him to join the varsity team.
In that moment, he changed the course of Curry’s life.
“I needed something to get me out of the things that I was into, and he found me and gave me the gift of basketball. He taught me basketball and sharpened up my skills, but as he was doing that, he was not just teaching me basketball but also life skills.”
Some of those life lessons also included standing up tall and believing in yourself.
Something Curry is now passing on to the next generation of student athletes, as he now takes on that role Alaniz left behind.
“After that we came out victorious in both of those games, all do to coach. We gave it all we got just like he would have wanted to, and we came out with victories.”
During the memorial Wednesday, one after another shared how Mr. Alaniz was a team player off and on the court.
“We would come in and ask, ‘hey do we need these kids dropped’ and he would say nope, I know they can pass, we will work together, and he really believed in their futures.”
Jill Jimenez, a counselor at McFarland High School, was just a door across from Mr. Alaniz and said their five-minute conversations turned into 20 minutes, during which she learned a lot from him.
“Coach A. always made us laugh, always made everyone in the room feel happy and we are really going to miss him,” said Devin McCulough.
They all say they are going to miss him very much and continue his legacy of believing in others and pushing through every tough situation.