Cerritos College, friends and family mourn the loss of beloved longtime equipment manager Refugio "Poonie" Estrada

Poonie Estrada with his son Matthew and daughter Desiree. (Courtesy Cerritos College Athletics)
Poonie Estrada with his son Matthew and daughter Desiree. (Courtesy Cerritos College Athletics)

By John Van Gaston
Cerritos College Sports Information Director

EDITOR'S NOTE:
 In my 35 years as the Cerritos College Sports Information Director, I have never interjected my personal thoughts or feelings in a press release. But Poonie was like a brother to me, and this one hits a lot harder, so please understand if this release has a personal touch. JVG

As I type this through the tears in my eyes, I realize that in all my years as the SID at Cerritos College, I have had the great fortune to meet some outstanding individuals that have helped shape my life and provide me with memories that last a lifetime. The one part of my job that I don't like is having to write about someone who has passed away, which comes with the territory. It hurt writing about the passing of some great people/coaches/student-athletes over the years. In this instance, the passing of Refugio "Poonie" Estrada has a different feeling. To me, he was more than just the college's Field House equipment manager for the last 31 years. He was a friend, confidant, source of laughter... a brother.

On Thursday, January 28, 2021, Poonie lost his battle with cancer. And that's what it was - a battle. Poonie battled, because that's what Birds do - they battle.

Poonie with his daughter Desiree

Poonie leaves behind a daughter, Desiree (24) (pictured, left), who swam for the Falcons in 2016 before transferring to Cal State Long
Beach and earned her degree, and son Matthew (19), who played baseball at Gahr High and is a student at Cerritos College.

"Poonie Estrada was one of a kind," said Cerritos Athletic Director and friend, Maria Castro. "He will be dearly missed by all of the Cerritos Falcons student-athletes, coaches, and staff. He was dedicated to our sports programs and was a staple on the sidelines for our football and baseball games. Our hearts go out to the Estrada family at this time. Poonie will forever be remembered as a Falcon."

They say that when a student-athlete becomes a member of a Cerritos College athletic team, they are known as "Falcons". Two of the sports have an extra special name for their players. On the baseball team, when you make the team, you are known as a "Bird" and the tradition that represents being called one dates back to the first day of Cerritos baseball. The same can be said for the football team, who refer to their alums as "Dirty Birds". There's one person that has the distinction of being part of all three of those affiliations - Refugio "Poonie" Estrada.

Poonie was a member of the Cerritos College cross country and track and field teams (pictured, below left) from 1984-85, which made him a Falcon. But he never wore the Falcon pinstripes in baseball or put on shoulder pads as a member of the football team. So who decided he was a "Bird" and "Dirty Bird"? It was every baseball and football player over the last 31 years that went into the college's Field House every day to collect their equipment for practice or for a game. Not only did they get their equipment, they received guidance, an ear they could bend, life lessons, laughter, and little did they know, a lifetime friend.

Poonie running track for the Falcons

Countless student-athletes, as well as staff members and coaches that came through the Field House during their time at the college, made it a priority to stop by to see Poonie when they visited. Unbelievably, he remembered everyone's name and welcomed all with a smile and a hug. Poonie welcomed them not only into the Field House, but as if it was his house. Poonie's house.

As welcoming and giving as he was, Poonie only demanded one thing... do not disrespect the Field House. Although it was the first building to be erected when the campus began in 1955, Poonie spent years keeping it in pristine condition. He worked diligently on keeping the football, baseball and track uniforms in the best condition possible. The college used to send out their uniforms to be sewed when they ripped. Knowing it cost the school money they couldn't spare, he learned how to sew and fixed them himself. It went unnoticed, but Poonie was able to get any kind of grass or dirt stain out of a uniform, which helped maintain the longevity and saved the college even more money. Need a belt? Poonie knew where it was. Need stirrups? Poonie knew where it was. Needed a place to get away and talk? Go see Poonie. 

"Every day I was there, I spent time talking with Poonie," said former head football coach Frank Mazzotta, who worked with Poonie for 29 of his 40 years. "He was my guy, my little buddy. He took care of me, just like he did with everyone else. Whenever I needed a break from the coaches or the players, I would go sit with Poonie and talk. He was a source of comfort and was always welcoming. I'm just glad that I'm retired and I don't have to walk into that Field House knowing that he won't be there. I loved the guy like a son."

Current head football coach Dean Grosfeld echoed those sentiments. "Poonie was an incredible man with a huge heart and was my right-hand man," stated Grosfeld. "I knew him as a player at Cerritos (1991-92) and as a coach at Cerritos for the last 26 years. His love for his children, the Falcons, and his character are things I will always cherish. He never wavered in his character. I loved him like family and will miss him terribly."

Refugio "Poonie" Estrada

Even though his job required strange and extended hours, Poonie was always there to make sure things ran properly. He came to work early and stayed late. Poonie was the first to the Field House on football game days on Saturday and was the last to leave. He offered his services to help supervise the stadium during high school football games or any other events that took place in the stadium. Shouts of "Hey Poonie?" echoed throughout the Field House multiple times every day. And with every shout to him, he would always respond back so you knew where he was.

Former Falcon track and field coach Doug Wells remembers, "I will always remember coming into the Field House and yelling, 'Poonie!' and he would always yell back, 'Coach Wells!' in return. He was always there for me and I will miss him and the many talks we had over 30 years."

There are so many people that share the same experience as Mazzotta, Grosfeld and Wells. Just a few samplings include...

Former baseball coach Ken Gaylord - "I loved him. My family loved him. More importantly, our players and coaches loved him. Our Refugio was to me, an amazing godsend to our baseball, football and track programs. The hours he worked unpaid to keep everything going went unnoticed by many. He had a student-athlete first philosophy. He didn't care if you had a great team or a not great team. He treated them the same. Always positive in helping the athletes when they were struggling with life. The other day, there was this beautiful full moon lunar sunset, which is rare. I stared at it and had this really peaceful feeling come over me. It was as if they were getting ready to welcome him up there."

Current track and field coach and former Cerritos athlete Chris Richardson - "I will always remember Poonie as a true Falcon and someone whose passion for this college was unmatched. His often unsung contribution to the lives of thousands is a testament to his broad reach and impact."

Former assistant football coach and Athletic Director Dan Clauss - "When I needed a break, I would walk down to the Field House and hang out with him in the cage swapping stories. I also liked watching the baseball games with him in the old white golf cart. Poonie had every trait you wanted to see in an equipment manager. Hard-working, organized, patient with student-athletes and coaches."

Brian Cable & Poonie at Phil's BBQ Current Athletic Trainer Brian Cable - "Poonie loved BBQ (pictured, left with Brian Cable). We traveled together for a baseball playoff series at Grossmont College a few years ago. After the game, we went looking for food and came across Phil's BBQ in San Diego. We were hooked. Poonie loved it so much that the next weekend he drove his son Matthew back to San Diego just to eat at Phil's. It became our go-to place after football games when we would play a San Diego school. If either of us was in the San Diego area, we would go there and send a picture to each other letting them know what they were missing. Poonie was loved by the Cerritos College athletes. His goal was to help them be as successful as they could in their athletic endeavors while they were athletes here and they appreciated it. He was always prepared for any situation that would pop up on the football sidelines. Whether it was a lost mouthpiece, clips on a helmet that broke, or the coaches headsets, Poonie could fix anything and have the player ready to get back on the field."

Former baseball coach George Horton - "Poonie was a true example of a member of the "Bird" family. He gave so much of himself for so many. He did his job with a sense of pride and out of love. he set a standard for all of us around him. I'm sure he was a great son and father. He was loved by the "Bird Nation". I am proud to call him my friend. RIP Refugio."

Current women's aquatics coach Sergio Macias, who coached Poonie's daughter in swimming in 2016: "Poonie welcomed me from Day 1. Even though he didn't have anything to do with my teams, he would always ask me if I needed anything. He provided me with Cerritos apparel/gear to represent our athletic teams. I had the privilege to coach his daughter, Desiree. He was a hard worker, great father and an amazing person."

Current assistant football coach Tom Caines - "It was a rough day today all around. This was also the two-year anniversary of my wife Stacy's passing. Poonie was just one of those guys, never said much, but everything always got done. Always wanted to help and never complained. I spent time with him after the season was over each year putting stuff away. He always appreciated help but never asked. I remember going up to The Beach Bowl in 2019. I wanted to take a huge ladder from the maintenance yard to stand on. He wasn't happy and  told me, 'I don't have time to set that up'. I told him I would take care of it. We get to Ventura and I start setting it up, he comes over and says that's not safe, let's strap it to the pole. Next thing I know, he has extra game belts tying it to a fence post so I won't fall. Also, after the game ,they had awards ceremony and celebration. After I turned to go load the ladder, he already had it done. He smiled and said, 'Congratulations!' There are Falcons in NFL, MLB, NBA, Olympics etc... No greater true Falcon than Poonie. He will be missed."

Current head baseball coach Vic Buttler - "Poonie was one of my favorite individuals on campus. His amazing energy, his politeness, and overall sense of calmness was consistent day in and day out. I can hear his voice in my head right now as I type, 'What's up Vic, how are you today?' Never once have Poonie and I communicated without him being genuinely concerned about how I was doing and how things were going for me as first year head baseball coach at Cerritos College. Poonie always went beyond the call of duty to make sure my coaching staff, my players, and myself were taken care of for practices and games. I remember my inaugural game vs. Fullerton College at home. The coaches game pullovers were still pending delivery. He made sure that I, as the head coach, looked official. He gave me his very own pullover, right off his back. Man, that was love! Thank you for everything Poonie! You were such an amazing individual, and you will be truly missed."

Former baseball player and coach Gerardo Perez, who coached Poonie's son at Gahr High - "Poonie is recognized by most as the equipment guy or the caretaker of the Field House at Cerritos College. What he was and will be remembered for is even greater than the tremendous job he did so well. Poonie took pride in everything he did, including being there for each and every player. He was an even better man, counselor, and voice of reason for so many players not knowing where to turn. Many times he was there early to do his job but also stayed late to close it out. He never turned players in need away and often did counseling as the side job. With all the athletes that were losing it, going nuts or just having a bad day, he was there. Never did he ask for anything extra. And when he gave away the Shasta Black Cherry soda from the vending machine, you were bound to change your luck. Two more things, and he is worthy! As coaches, he would tell us when to take the foot off the pedal a bit and then when he got pissed for the Field House mess. The pedal was down and the players were on the beloved line before a blink of an eye. It was his house, "La Casa de Poonie", and you didn't disrespect it. Lastly, he loved every minute Matthew was being raised at Birdland. In turn, it led to his joy watching Matthew play baseball at Gahr, and oh those pumpkin seeds. RIP Poonie, we are all better Birds and people because of your heart and compassion."

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Poonie relaxing before a football game

Even though Poonie knew he had a long day, he always made it a point to come into work early to walk on the track with myself and equipment manager Dan Tufnell. I would get to the school a little earlier than the two of them, but as soon as I saw Poonie's car come down the access road between the home side bleachers and baseball field, I knew the morning just got a little better. Often times, Dan and I would tease Poonie because sometimes he could be so naive. But that was just another of his great qualities - he never got bitter about anything. Even when he would get "mad", he was never really mad. Dan and I always greeted him the same way - "Ay Poonie!". We would walk the track for about 90 minutes each day and our conversations covered just about anything and everything. If I had received a call, text or email from a former athlete, and I let him know, he immediately would share stories about them. His interactions with the student-athletes was face-to-face, as were Dan's with the other men's teams. For the most part, I was the guy behind the scenes doing stats, writing press releases and working on the website (or typing press releases before the Internet existed). He was the perfect person for that because he retained all of the personal info on everyone, while I would share what they did on the field. Had we reversed our roles, I don't know that either of us would have been very good at those jobs. His amazing organizational skills and steel trap memory allowed him to be great at his job. I just sat at a desk and typed.

"Poonie was one of my best friends," said Tufnell. "When Poonie was near the end, I asked Matthew to hold his hand and let him know I love him. We always had a good time messing with him and we could convince him of almost anything. He would just get frustrated and when we'd let him off the hook, he would laugh with us. Never held a grudge. I will miss those times the most."

My sentiments exactly.

One of Poonie's favorite subjects was his kids. He reveled in telling me about Matthew's exploits growing up and playing baseball. When he took Matthew and one of his friends to the College World Series, he came back with a shirt for me. Didn't ask for one, but he brought me one. He also came to the pool to see Desiree swim for the Falcons and just stood there like a proud father. He also liked to talk about his yard and home repairs. Poonie was just one of those guys who could do anything. If he didn't know how, he would research and learn and always shared with enthusiasm when he completed another project. Poonie always knew the good places to eat, so lunch was never a waste of time. Need to find a hole in the wall place? All you had to do was ask Poonie.

We may not be able to walk on the track right now, but even when we're back at school, the stadium will forever feel emptier than before. 

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Refugio "Poonie" Estrada

Poonie was a student at Cerritos College in 1984-85 and was a distance runner on the track and field team, as well as a member of the cross country team. His specialty was the 5000 meters and he went on to earn the team's Most Improved Runner on the cross country team. During his sophomore season, the college was hiring student workers and Poonie was selected to help then-equipment manager Spiers Wilson in the Field House. A gruff older man, Wilson took an immediate liking to Poonie and spent time teaching him how to issue gear, order and inventory equipment and maintain the quality of the uniforms. After Poonie finished at Cal State Fullerton, the full-time position became available after Wilson's retirement. The Athletic Director at the time, Richard Juliano, selected Poonie over the other candidates, much to the chagrin of Wilson, who wanted his son to get the job. But Juliano saw something in Poonie and approved his hiring.

"Poonie was a natural at the job," recalled Juliano. "From the outset, he was always willing to go the extra mile and help when anyone needed it. Some of us retired folks try to get together each year and Poonie has made the effort to come join us. He's always the most welcomed person at our breakfast. The loss of Poonie is a huge void to fill, and not just as an employee, but as a person."

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There are countless stories and comments that could be included in this press release. Here are just a few that have poured in through personal messages and social media.

Former Athletic Trainer Steve Navarro (1978-95) - "Poonie was a private guy. But it was the genuineness of him that stands out. I'll always cherish all of the times we went to lunch and talked, which was about three times a week."

Former head football coach Frank Mazzotta (1978-2018) - "Poonie was a guiding source for me. Each road game, the team bus would leave before he and (equipment assistant) Elias would. But on the freeway, we would always see them in the flatbed truck flying by and waving to the bus. The guys always got a kick out of it and would look for them to see when they'd pass the bus."

Poonie with his daughter Desiree
Former Cerritos baseball player (1994-95) and assistant coach Jose "Pep" Miranda -
 "Poonie wasn't just a great Bird... he was a GOOD man. He truly cared about all of us going through that school. I remember when I first got to Cerritos, my brother introduced me to him and said, 'Give this man your utmost respect...because he will always have your back!' I did... and Poonie did... I remember meeting with players at the beginning of the season every one of my eight years there and literally threatening the team that if they ever thought about disrespecting Poonie or HIS Field House, they would need to find another place to play. I remember working in the "cage" one year during football season. His daughter, Desiree (pictured, left with Poonie), was probably one or two years old. I would babysit for him when her mom would drop her off at the Field House. Then, 12 years later, her and Matt came to Gahr, where Matt would play for us. I used to chuckle everytime I would see Poonie get mad, because even when he was trying to be mad, it was a nice mad. He would always add an 'S' to the back of my name, 'Hey Peps...how are you doing today?' Or 'Why did he do that Peps?' He was genuine! Best glove lacer ever! There are so many little things that he has done for people it ends up being a really big part of a young man's life. No athlete went back to Cerritos College after leaving without stopping by the Field House and saying hi to Poonie. I will miss you my friend...rest well!"

Former Cerritos baseball player Kenny Gajewski (1991) - "I loved this man. He was such a calming figure to me at a young age when things were going so fast. Always smiling and having fun. I couldn't wait to get to the locker room to see Poonie! RIP buddy!"

Former Cerritos track and cross country teammate of Poonie's, Mel Cortez (1984-85) - "I'll miss you, Poonie. Most don't know you got your nickname in 1984 when we were in the XC team. Our coach got us a part-time job. You got lucky to get placed at the Field House. You did such good job, they never let you go. Cerritos was lucky to have you for all these years."

Jessie Christensen, wife of former Cerritos baseball player and assistant coach Bryce Christensen (1992-93) - "I'm an extended Bird family member and my heart hurts. Boy, was this man was a legend. I am honored to have known him. May he rest now in peace."

Former Cerritos baseball player Kimo Pahoa - "My most recent visit with Poonie was short and sweet at our old Bird Clubhouse (Field house). It was nice to see my old friend and reminisce about old times and of course he was so gracious and made sure I got a Bird game hat. He will be missed my many!! Love you Poonie!!"

Former Cerritos baseball player and current assistant coach Tony Miranda (1992-93) - "Refugio "Poonie" Estrada...thank you for taking the time to show a young 18-year old freshman what it means to be a Bird and all your words of wisdom. You always had time for us players and was our #1 fan. Great man that will surely be missed!

Former Cerritos football player Kevin Brown (2003-04)- "RIP Poonie Estrada, my favorite person at Cerritos College. What a great person. My deepest condolences to his family. You will never be forgotten.

Former Cerritos baseball player Joe Rocha (1986-87) - "RIP! A great Father, Falcon, friend and employee of Cerritos College. We love you, Poonie and we each will always remember our times. He fought like no other and someday would like to meet the family. Love you.

Former Cerritos football player John Brasfield (2002-03) - "Just lost an old friend and my first college equipment manager from my community college I attended. My condolences go to his family and I wish everyone the best. Please pray for his family. Poonie Estrada - I still have your T-shirts you passed out. Rest in Power. Falcons forever.

Richie Guataco and Poonie at lunch
Former Cerritos football team assistant Richie Guataco (2015-19; pictured with Poonie at lunch) -
 "I am going to miss seeing you and hanging out with you my good friend. Now you're in a better place my good friend!!! Til we see each other again. RIP Poonie. I love you man! I am going to miss you. 

Former Cerritos football player Elmer Tarver (1997-98) - "Poonie Estrada was one helluva man, bro. He was such a cool person to be around. He truly gonna be missed. REST IN PARADISE, brutha!

Former Cerritos football player Fatu Ulale (2009-10) - "Lost a great man today. Poonie Estrada - you will be missed dearly. Thank you for loving us the way you did, showing us what humility & selflessness really looked like. I love you forever Poonie, rest in love!!

Former Cerritos football player Dan Kuykendal (2004-05) - "R.I.P. Poonie Estrada. You were one of a kind, truly a great friend. You always knew how to hook it up with gear when needed. You will be missed by all that you helped out!!! The Cerritos Field House will never be the same, Once a Falcon, Always a Falcon!!

Former student athletic trainer Katie Johnson - "I'm so sad to hear that Poonie Estrada passed away. Poonie was the best equipment manager in the biz. He was always down for some fish tacos and made me smile every day I spent at Cerritos. What an amazing guy he was. He will be dearly missed."

Former Cerritos football player Sirquon Hardy (2000) - "Thank you for taking care of me and my son at Cerritos College, Poonie. You were one of the most genuine people I've known. Rest in Heaven, my friend."

Former Cerritos baseball player Chris Villalobos (2008-10) - "Ponnie was a great man. He always made you feel welcome and took care of you on whatever you needed. He never said no, he would try his best to make it happen. He was also a coach off the field. From sports conversations, his track stories, and talking about the games to life events, he would give me advice and guidance as if I was his own son. I remember as a freshman coming from El Rancho High (where our colors were royal blue and white) Coach Gaylord made it mandatory that everyone needed black cleats. At the time, my parents were bouncing back financially. I couldn't afford black cleats all I had were blue. Poonie to the rescue! He gave me a pair of cleats told me not to tell anyone, which I never did til now. He was one to show love to everyone, especially to his family! I remember him bringing his son Matthew to watch us play and working with him in the cages. Even at that, he would ask for our advice on drills and anything to help him improve. I'll miss you buddy! Gone too soon but never forgotten! Class of 08-10"

Former college athletic department and activities employee Trudy Foster - "Cerritos has a special Angel watching over it now. So many wonderful memories of him."

Poonie and Rhamondre Stevenson after a game Former Cerritos football player and Oklahoma Sooner Rhamondre Stevenson (2007-08; pictured, left with Poonie) - "Rest in paradise to the most genuine person I've ever been around."

Former Cerritos football player and current Seattle Seahawk D.J. Reed (2015) - "Prayers to Poonie's family, he was a solid dude & very genuine soul."

Former Cerritos football player and current Denver Bronco Kyle Peko (2011-12) - "Rest In Peace, my friend!!!

Former Cerritos football player and current New York Giant Elijhaa Penny (2013) - "Noooooo! RIP Poonie!"

Former Cerritos football player Andrew Hosley (1993-94) - "Poonie was such a great guy! He always greeted me with a big smile, handshake and hug. Rest Easy, My Friend."

Former Cerritos football player (1990-91) and assistant coach Casey Mazzotta - "Poonito... Sad day as Poonie is part of our family. Falcon family and Mazzotta family. If you were a Falcon, you have memories of this man and recognize his care and love for all the men in the program. The world lost one of the best today. Every Falcon who was lucky enough to have their life touched by him feels the sadness today. May God bless you, my friend."

Rita Thompson, wife of former Cerritos football player Darrell Thompson (1990-91) - "Darrell & I are heartbroken to hear the news! Darrell never missed a chance to catch up with him when he visited CC. May he RIP. We send our love & prayers ."

Former Cerritos football player Rick Schoenberger (1984 & 86) - "We are absolutely devastated to hear of the passing of Poonie. He was such an incredibly positive and wonderful human being. Always a pleasure to be around and truly an honor to know. Poonie made this world a better place and it won't be the same without him in it. We love you Poonie and will absolutely never forget you."

Former Cerritos football player Isaias Hernandez (2005) - "He was always wanting and willing to support. A lot of love came from your friendship with him. He would always excitingly message me that he was gonna get you to come down to the restaurant. We'll always remember him and save him a seat."

Former Cerritos baseball player Eddie Davis (1991-92) - "He welcomed me with open arms as a 17-year old moving from New Orleans to LA to play baseball at Cerritos College. You will missed dearly Poonie...RIH"

(L-R) Frank Mazzotta, Steve Lopez and Poonie Estrada Former Cerritos football (1991-92) and baseball (1994) player Steve Lopez (right, with Frank Mazzotta and Poonie) - "Heartbroken!!! Just got the news about someone near and dear to me passing away. Falcon family lost a great one who touched many of our lives. RIP brother.

Former Cerritos football player (1978-79) and current Ventura College head coach Steve Mooshagian -
 "That's terrible news. Saw him at our bowl game and just shocked! My thoughts and prayers are with the family, and also to our Falcon football family! R.I.P Poonie."

Former Cerritos football player Jay Moore (1996-97) - "Damn it!! I love that guy. Today is a sad day but we have some much to smile about also. Many memories. Prayers to the Estrada family and EVERYONE that he touched at Cerritos College!!!

Former Cerritos baseball player Santos Cortez III (1994-95) - "Poonie was always a cool head who'd give you a pat on the butt when you missed an "important" or didn't "get a good extension" on a steal. Every ballclub needs a Poonie in their dugout. - RIP"

Former Cerritos football player Sebastian Hernandez (2019) - "Poonie was a great man. He always had a smile on his face and made sure everyone was taken care of. RIP Poonie. May you rest in love."

Former Cerritos football player Gary Tessitore (1994) - "Great dude! Always helped me feel comfortable being from the Inland Empire not Orange County and made sure my gear was good to go. Funny how all the coaches I have played for and coached with that Poonie is one that I will never forget. Great equipment dude, better person. Rest easy my friend"

Former Cerritos football (2018-19) and baseball player (2019-20) Matt Den Hartog - "RIP Poonie. I'm thankful for all the memories we shared on and off the field. You were always one of the most genuine guys I've ever met. Thank you for the friendship and being a highlight of not only Cerritos College, but my life. You will always be remembered."

Current Cerritos baseball player Buck Anderson (2020) - "Rest In Power, Poonie. Was one of those guys that would always make your days better. Super easy going and fun guy to talk to. It was a privilege to know this man. My condolences to his family."

Current Cerritos baseball player David Hays (2020) - "RIP Poonie. My heart hurts right now. Prayers out to my brother and his family."

Current Cerritos baseball player Stephen Chavez (2019-20) - "My deepest condolences to the Estrada family. Poonie will always be a big part of Cerritos College, and was a world class act both on and off the field. When I think of Cerritos College, he is someone that definitely comes to mind. Que en paz descanses."

Longtime Cerritos football supporter Bob Perumean and brother-in-law of Tom Caines - "So in shock right now. Don't even have the words. Poonie was the best! No other way to say it. Always had a smile on his face and was so positive. He lived his kids and Falcon football. Will miss seeing him and hearing his awesome laugh. RIP Poonie!"

Poonie and Ken Miller
Former Cerritos football player Ken Miller (1990-91; pictured left, with Poonie) -
 "Absolutely numb. Been friends with Poonie for 32 years. He took care of me & then took great care of my son. A pure, honest & straight forward soul. Huge heart. All we talked about was the good old days & our kids. He is so proud of his kids.

Current Cerritos baseball player Nolan Brown (2020) -
 "One of the most kind, genuine people I met on campus. Rest easy, Poonie, and prayers to his family as well. You'll surely be missed."

Former Cerritos football player Andrew Buenrostro (2012) - "Heart broken by this news. Poonie was an amazing man. He was one of the nicest and kindest people I've ever met. RIP"

Former Cerritos baseball player Camden Angel (2019-20) - "Rest In Peace Poonie. He greeted me every day with a smile when I walked in the clubhouse. He loved talking baseball and he welcomed in this kid from Tennessee with open arms. A selfless man."

Former Cerritos football player Osborn Umeh (2012-13) - "Damn! This one hurts heavy! This man was just a kind soul! Would always ask you how you were doing every time he saw you come in the locker room and never a boring moment with him. He will be loved by thousands throughout his time and beyond!"

As the saying goes, Once A Falcon, Always A Bird.
I will miss you dearly, my friend. #RIPPoonie