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Beloved Tucson high school coach dies of COVID-19

Ismael Arce was a soccer coach and teacher at Tucson High School for more than 20 years. He died of COVID-19 last Thursday.

TUCSON, Ariz. — The Tucson community is in mourning after four school district employees died of COVID-19 between Jan. 25 and Jan. 29. 

One of them was a beloved soccer coach named Ismael Arce.

Arce worked at Tucson High School for more than 20 years as a social studies teacher and soccer coach. He even led the team to a state championship in 2014.

“When I heard the news, I flashed back to my senior year when we had that amazing season,” said Christian Wolfe, who played for Arce’s team in 2014.

All these years later, Wolfe has taken Arce’s lessons with him to the Air Force.

“As a coach, you lead your players but he had the trust in us to allow us to lead ourselves and the younger players,” said Wolfe.

Arce’s leadership is a reminder of the deep legacies each person leaves behind.

“Aside from being a coach, we considered him kind of like another father figure to us,” said Wolfe.

Tucson Unified School District says each employee that died of the virus contracted it outside of school. They’ve lost a total of eight employees since the pandemic started.

“That is going to take years for that campus community to recover from,” said Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo.

Remembering the Arizonans we lost to COVID

More than 13,000 people in Arizona have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Here’s a look back at a few of the Arizonans we lost to the coronavirus.