TPHS lacrosse remembers Jose Montaño

Honorary lacrosse team member Jose Montaño, Jr., lost his three-year fight with medulloblastoma, an agressive and malignant type of brain cancer, on April 13.
His father made a public announcement on the Jose Montaño Foundation Facebook page the following day, alerting the organization’s near 1,600 followers of his son’s death.
“Five days before his third year anniversary of being diagnosed, Jose, my hero, my baby, my teacher, was called to heaven yesterday,” Jose Montaño, Sr. wrote. “I know he is now playing in God’s playground and being our guardian angel.”
The Montaño family’s relationship with the TPHS lacrosse team began in 2012, when a hospital social worker introduced the elder Montaño to Friends of Jaclyn, an organization which partners families battling pediatric brain tumors with high school and collegiate sports teams. Since then, the boys have connected with Jose about 20 times a year, holding fundraisers and participating in his foundation events, according to head coach Jonathan Zissi.
“I think Friends of Jaclyn is a wonderful organization,” Zissi said. “Our kids learned just as much, if not more, from Jose than we could ever have given him.”
Jose’s experiences in the hospital gave rise to the Jose Montaño Foundation, through which he delivered toys and care packages to other hospitalized children each month. Long-pole defenseman Peter Hollen (12) said that he will always carry the spirit of Jose’s selflessness and positive attitude with him.
“I don’t think I’ll ever forget anything he taught me,” Hollen said. “Everything that he showed and everything that he fought — I’ll have it for the rest of my life, and I think that everybody on the team who met him will also have it.”
According to Hollen, Jose spent the last two months of his life as a “happy, regular kid,” and when his cancer returned for the final time, “he did not let it stop him.”
“I think it was hard for him to know [that he was terminally ill], but he kept pushing through; he kept fighting,” Hollen said.
Hollen’s brother, attackman Henry Hollen (11), described Jose as the “strongest kid [he] will ever meet” and said that he will always be a part of the team.
“He defined selflessness and strength at the age of 13,” Henry said. “We love him as a brother and he will forever be in our hearts.”
Zissi said that the most incredible part of Jose’s story is the empathy he had toward other hospitalized children during his own chemotherapy treatments.
“It’s a wild concept for a 13-year-old to think outside of himself like that,” Zissi said. “All those great lessons that most adults try to teach you, these guys learned from a 13-year-old.”
Of Jose’s many qualities, the one that left the greatest impression on defensive midfielder Luke Braun (10) was his strength.
“The amount of strength that boy had to have to keep fighting the battle every day was an insane amount to handle, and he used that strength every day to help others,” Braun said. “I hope that one day I will have the amount of strength to use in my life that Jose used in his.”
Attackman Marc Lefferdink (10) agrees with teammates that the Falcons will not forget who they are playing for.
“Our whole thing is to play for Jose — to fight every last fight and to give everything you have, like Jose did, and to just have a positive attitude,” Peter Hollen said. “We say a prayer for him every game now. He’s in our head, in our hearts, and with us on the field.”
Team manager Alex McCracken (12) said that the Falcons have learned that “every little detail matters.”
According to Zissi, the Falcons will play the rest of the spring season in Jose’s honor. The Montaño family is accepting donations at 1835 Cabrena St. San Diego, Calif. 92154 and requests that donors specify where they want the money to go: to the foundation, or to the Montaño family.