By Kim DeRaedt
Franco Olascoaga liked it; he loved it; he wanted some more of it—soccer, that is. However, on Sept. 9, when Olascoaga was giving back to the game that he loved so much, the 21-year-old was tragically struck by lightning. Nearly a month later, the soccer community’s worst fears became reality as Olascoaga passed away on Oct 7.
Olascoaga lived, breathed and died for soccer. Few can claim that they’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for their sport and served as the exemplary ambassador to the game. Olascoaga was the player coaches longed to have, the teammate that never let you down and the coach that would forever impact the lives of his young players. He was the real deal. As his brother Paul Olascoaga would describe, Franco was “true”.
“He was a true brother and equally as important, a true friend,” Paul said. “Franco had my back for anything and everything.”
Many of Franco’s former coaches and teammates can attest to the same feeling. Franco spent much of his youth playing for Melrose SC, Texas Heat and JC Premier in the Houston area. He was a member of the varsity soccer squad at New Caney High School where he captained the team en route to being named Second Team All-District.
Still, it was never his accolades that set Franco apart; it was his effort. The tenacious utility player never took a moment on the field for granted.
“Franco tried his hardest every time, every second,” Paul said. “Even if it was just a scrimmage, he didn’t care. He always gave it his all.”
Franco’s effort is a mere byproduct of his passion for soccer. But Franco was a giver by nature, and this passion manifested itself in the desire to contribute to the sport, to give back to the game that had given him his identity. Following in his father’s footsteps, Franco took up coaching after his high school playing days.
“My dad was a coach, and Franco loved to teach kids all he knew about the sport,” Paul said. “His life revolved around soccer.”
Franco didn’t want to be just any old coach. Paul tells that his brother had wanted to study business in the future, but he also had the goal of becoming a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) National “A” Licensed Coach, the most prestigious certification.
Paul doesn’t doubt that with his brother’s work rate, he would have accomplished just that and then some. Franco was a firm believer that effort was the key to success.
“If Franco could tell his youth players one thing,” Paul said, “it would be to never give up and that anything is possible. He’d tell them to always try their hardest.”
Franco never let anything stand in the way of his actions, and as his brother humorously recalls, that includes sleep.
“One night, he fell asleep at a traffic light with his foot on the brake for an hour and a half until someone banged on his window and woke him up,” Paul said. “Then he came home and continued to sleep.”
It’s a wonder Franco ever found the time to sleep. There were few moments that he could not be found with a soccer ball at his feet or a good friend at his side.
“Franco would want to be remembered as the true friend he was and the passion he had for soccer,” Paul said. “Friendship and soccer will be his legacy.”
Paul would be happy if he could someday simply scratch at the surface of his brother’s commendable lifestyle. Paul will lace up his boots against Corpus Christi Fuel today in remembrance of his brother.
“It’s an honor to play in this game for my brother,” Paul said. “I hope I will make him proud because I know he will be watching me. I will try my hardest, and if I score, it will be dedicated to him.”
A goal would only be a small dedication to a guy whom dedicated so much of himself to the sport and his loved ones. Regals FC hopes this game will help pay tribute to a former teammate, friend and brother. Franco Olascoaga will always be a part of the Regals FC family.
Regals FC has dedicated today’s match as a benefit game for Franco Olascoaga’s family. All game proceeds will go toward the family, including tickets which are available to purchase at the gate for $10. The match kicks-off at 3 p.m. at Woodforest Bank Stadium. Donations are welcome.