Sockers, young soccer players remember fallen star

By Hector Trujillo

Contributor

The San Diego Sockers and Magdalena Ecke Family hosted the first-ever Johnny Castillo Cup Championship Tournament at the Del Mar Arena on Sunday. The tournament, which featured players from Los Angelitos de Encinitas, was named in memory of Jonathan Sebastian Castillo, who died on June 11 due to leukemia-related complications.

"This is a tragedy beyond belief, and many of the boys went to see Johnny in the hospital the day before he died," Los Angelitos de Encinitas head coach Bill Sparks said. "Johnny was the picture of good health; handsome, great energy, beautiful smile. This will be a very difficult loss for our boys to understand."

Johnny, 15, came home from school the afternoon of June 1 and decided he was going to go play basketball for a while. He returned to his home shortly thereafter and said he was tired and went to take a nap on the couch.

Johnny's mother had trouble waking him but was able to get him to bed a while later. At 11 that evening, Johnny woke up, vomited and became unconscious. The family called the paramedics, who came and took him to Scripps Hospital. Doctors diagnosed him with leukemia and detected three tumors in his brain. He remained in a coma, was later pronounced brain-dead and was kept on life support until the evening of June 11.

The Johnny Castillo Cup Championship Tournament, held in memory of the fallen player, was composed of four teams with one of the teams named the Johnny Castillos.

The tournament championship saw the Red Devils defeat Real Madrid, 4-2. Among those who attended were Johnny's mother Nancy, stepfather Ramon and sister Susana. After the tournament, the players and their families circled around and spoke about their fondest memories of Johnny.

"We all came together and gave a cheer for Johnny that was loud enough for him to hear wherever he is resting now," Sparks said.

Los Angelitos de Encinitas is a nonprofit organization created in 2008. Its goals are to provide educational and athletic opportunities to economically disadvantaged youths.

For more information on Los Angelitos de Encinitas or to donate to Johnny's family, e-mail Bill Sparks at bsleucadia@hotmail.com.

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