Coaches remember Jonathan Ramirez

Athletics are supposed to teach individuals how to deal with adversity. By the time Jonathan Ramirez started playing sports, he had already learned how to deal with adversity.

Running a cross country course, running a race in track or playing in a basketball game: a walk in the park. Jonathan just smiled and did his job.

A 2005 Ramona High School graduate, Jonathan was killed when the bicycle he was riding was hit by a car in San Diego late June 19. He died several hours later, on June 20, in Scripps La Jolla Hospital.

Jonathan had a disarming smile. It was perpetual. He smiled when he was running in a race. He smiled after basketball games. Win or lose, Jonathan had a smile.

When most kids are starting youth soccer or T-ball, Jonathan was orphaned. He was not only an orphan; he was a big brother.

“Jonathan was very loving and caring,” said his younger sister, Emma. “He was constantly encouraging me. He took care of his little sister all of the time. He had a plan.”

After nine years and eight foster homes, Jonathan and Emma were adopted by Skip and Leslie Armbruster of Ramona.

Ninth grade is a traumatic year in the lives of most adolescents: going from the big fish in the small pond of middle school to being the little fish in the big pond of high school, hormones, geometry, a foreign language, peer pressure. Jonathan got a new home and a fresh start to smile about. He started competing in athletics. That brought smiles to the faces of his coaches and his teammates.

Jonathan participated in three sports a year at RHS. He lettered cross country, track and basketball.  He was voted Athlete of the Year in 2005, but he could have been the Bulldog of the Year. He was a joy to coach and a great teammate. Behind that smile was the fire of a competitor.

“He was a very competitive individual,” said his mother, Leslie Armbruster.

“Jonathan was a good guy,” said Ken Scheib, his basketball coach. “He always fought back through adversity. He never gave up in practice or on the court. He used his strengths to his advantage. He was very fast and he had great endurance.”

Ola Knutsson coached Jonathan in track and cross country. “Jonathan was a hardworking athlete but what impressed me the most about Jonathan was how seriously he took his responsibility as a big brother. Emma was on our team. One could really see how much he loved her and his family. He was an exceptional individual. He was very smart and very talented in the arts. He knew that track and cross country were not going to be his livelihood, so he worked hard on his artistic talents.”

As competitive as Jonathan was in athletics, he was even more talented in the arts.

“He had a gift for seeing things differently than others,” said his mother. “His drawings and paintings saw the bright side of things.”

His art work incorporated his smiling lifestyle.

Jonathan was in his final year of studying graphic design at the Art Institute of San Diego when he was taken from us.

Sports are supposed to teach lessons to athletes. Jonathan taught sports a lesson. Enjoy the competition. Do your best. Do your job. Give your other interest the same effort that you do sports. Smile.

   
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