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MHS soccer coach gets kudos from board
SCHOOLS Coonenberg edited-1
Manteca High School girls and boys coach Justin Coenenberg, right, is congratulated by Manteca Unified Superintendent Jason Messer. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin

Coaching is not just about winning and losing. So says Manteca High School Principal Frank Gonzales.

When the Buffaloes’ head administrator made that statement at the last meeting of the Manteca Unified Board of Education in December, he was referring to Justin Coenenberg. The popular boys and girls soccer coach was being presented with a plaque of achievement by the school district, and Gonzales did the honors of introducing the Manteca High coach prior to the award presentation.

While Coenenberg has demonstrated time and again his outstanding qualities as a coach, he has also consistently shown an “unselfish desire to make Manteca High a better place,” Gonzales said, giving enumerating just a few of the reasons behind the award. His “dedication to the students and the school” is evident everywhere on campus. And “the biggest thing is, he brought to the school Honor the Code,” added Gonzales.

Honor the Code is a program that is designed to reach students in positive ways by focusing on the good deeds and achievements of students and, to a certain extent, members of the teaching staff for which they are rewarded colorful HTC wristbands with words that denote those accomplishments.

But while Coenenberg said, “This is truly a great honor for me,” as he took over the podium after receiving the award, he downplayed the accolades heaped upon him. He pointed out that his accomplishments have been, for the most part, due to all the support he has received from students, staff, the school and the community for which he is “just in awe.”

He noted, as an example, the success of the annual Kicking for a Cure fund-raising events that were held in the recent years put on by the Manteca High girls soccer team. Proceeds totaling $15,000 from the first two years were donated to the American Cancer Society. The money came from drawings for prizes and silent auctions which were added highlights of the games.

In 2012, the Kicking for a Cure game was held to help raise money for Riley Simmons, a Manteca Futbol player and a resident of Ripon who was diagnosed with brain cancer. Coenenberg played a major role in seeking monetary donations and drawing prizes, with all the proceeds going to the Simmons benefit fund. Their effort raised $7,000 for the young cancer victim.

As to the Honor the Code program, Coenenberg humbly said, “I can’t take all the honor for (it). I can’t take full credit for that.”

He concluded his brief speech by thanking his wife Jenny “for allowing me to do what I love to do. She always supports me and never complains,” he said.