‘Coach Ed Memorial Garden’ honors late Golden Valley High cheer coach

Members of the Golden Valley Cheer Team share shovels as they participate in the planting of a tree at Golden Valley High School on Saturday in honor of Cheer Coach Edward Santos who passed away in 2017. Dan Watson/The Signal

Golden Valley High School’s cheer team and their families worked together to remember late coach Ed Santos with a new garden dedicated in his memory on Saturday.

Starting the newly named “Coach Ed Memorial Garden,” over a dozen current and former Grizzly cheerleaders took shovels and planted a small tree on Golden Valley’s campus.

Cheer program advisor Melissa Brewer and varsity parent representative Rosie Gama worked with school officials to have something on campus to remember Santos, who died from a stroke on July 26, 2017. After getting approval over a month ago, Gama and Brewer worked with Lowes, Home Depot and Foothill Soils Inc. on what to do.

“We were getting very close to the (anniversary of) the date that he passed away, and we were thinking about how to celebrate him,” Gama said. “Then I started thinking, ‘Well you know, why don’t we plant a tree in his honor?’”

A bench with the engraving, “He coached for us, we cheer for him,” will be placed at the base of the tree. The spot is intended to not only reflect Santos’ love of football, dance and cheer at Golden Valley, but also to serve as a spot for students and faculty to grieve and remember someone who left an impact, Brewer said.

Janessa Almanza graduated from Golden Valley when Santos died, after working with him as a coach since she was a freshman in high school.

“He just made a connection with anyone,” she said. “It could be the football team, the cheer team, the dance team, color guard. He was always there for every event and he would just stay connected with the whole school. That’s why he made such a great impact on everyone.”

Santos’ parents also thanked everyone who came to remember their son.

“The parents especially were so touching,” said Ramon Santos, Ed’s father. “They were able to see the difference in their kids when they got here and (he helped) them develop. He was astonishing.”

Santos’ mother Juanita said he left a big footprint at the school. When her husband said he wanted Santos to always be involved with something of value, she agreed.

“Here’s our value right here,” she said. “This is the value that my son had.”

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