Carl and Robin Chandler’s third and youngest child will soon graduate from Manteca High, a school that will always be a part of the family’s lives.
On Saturday, the Buffaloes’ track and field team is hosting a meet at Modesto Junior College to honor the life of their eldest son, who died in a car accident in the summer of 2019. He was 22.
The inaugural Carl L Chandler V Track and Field Invitational is a way of keeping “Lil Carl’s” memory alive but doubles as a fundraiser to give back to the school where the Chandlers have spent much of their time together.
“It’s our high school,” the elder Carl said. “It really is. I didn’t play any sports in high school, but for our kids — starting with Carl and Kylan and now Arielle — it was everything. That’s our alma mater. It’s where we accomplished most of our goals and have great memories.”
Carl L. Chandler graduated from Manteca in 2015 and was part of championship teams as a standout with the football and track and field programs. He qualified for the state meet his senior year and was believed to be the first from the school to do so in the triple jump. He continued to compete in track and field at Cal State LA.
Kylan and Arielle both played volleyball at MHS and helped the boys and girls squads win league titles. Arielle plans to accept a partial scholarship to play for Cal State LA.
“Our happiest times have been at the kids’ sport events — all three of them,” Robin said. She is the varsity girls volleyball coach at Manteca. “When (Carl) made state in the triple jump, it was one of the best highlights of my whole life.”
Manteca track and field coach Paul Lyons is a big part of the family. His mom, Aunmari, and Robin are childhood friends going back to their days in the Bay Area.
Lyons, a 2011 MHS grad, was a star hurdler in his prep days, and he continued to shine at Sacramento State. While he was in college, he trained with young Carl in the offseason.
“Our families moved out to the Valley at the same time and we all grew up together,” Lyons said. “I’ve known Carl since he was born. He’s like a little brother to me.”
Seven schools in all will converge at MJC on Saturday. Joining Manteca are East Union, Ripon, Central Valley, Monterey Trail, Orestimba and Sonora.
Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for students. Field and track events begin at 9 a.m.
Profits from the event will go to the Carl L. Chandler V Hard Work and Dedication Scholarship Program and the MHS track and field program.
Lyons said MJC coach Demitrius Snaer has been instrumental preparing the meet. The plan is for the invitational to take place at Manteca High in the future. Renovations are ongoing at the school, and eventually a new all-weather track surface will be installed around Guss Schmiedt Field.
The Chandlers are hoping to memorialize Carl in some way at the new facility.
“His passing affected everybody close to him,” Lyons said. “Manteca High track was a big part of his life. His parents and I got together to see what we can do to support the program and memorialize Carl at the same time. Hopefully, this can help keep his legacy going.”