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Beloved Arizona soccer coach dies of COVID-19

Fred Delgado’s final breath was taken from him by COVID-19 on Sunday, two weeks after his wife, Sandy, also died from the disease.

PHOENIX — A giant in the youth and amateur soccer community is gone at the age of 65. 

Fred Delgado’s final breath was taken from him by COVID-19 on Sunday, two weeks after his wife, Sandy, also died from the disease. Fred’s mother died from COVID-19 this month as well.

Fred Delgado touched hundreds of lives on the soccer field, family and former players say. Over three decades, his resume includes coaching kids camps, recreational teams, club teams, collegiate teams, and four years as head coach at St. Mary’s High School.

“My dad was my hero,” said Freddy Delgado, one of Fred’s two sons. “It wasn’t just about soccer. He taught us how to work and deal with people, how to treat them with respect, show them love, and develop things like Character and humility.”

A Facebook post honoring Fred’s death from former player Chris Popoca states, “Damn coach can’t believe it… we would celebrate on the bus even if we won or lost you would show us how to keep our head up. I was hoping to see you for co-ed soccer and say hi but life had other options… you are gone but not forgotten.”

Fred didn’t remember names easily so he gave players nicknames like Fozzy Bear, goat, “chato” and Big dog.

The couple planned on enjoying years of retirement and coaching ahead of them when the pandemic hit. They took precautions like wearing masks and washing their hands when going to the store or seeing their grandchildren. But they made the decision not to isolate themselves.

Earlier this month they entered the hospital together. Sandy died two weeks before Fred.

“They said ‘we're like a team, we’re gonna fight this together,'” said Jennifer Grady, the late couple’s daughter. “So they fought it together and they, in essence, they left the field together.”

Fred retired in 2015 from Qwest Century Link and Sandy retired from the Maricopa County Public Defender’s Office.

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