Jay in mourning after death of longtime baseball coach Campos

John Jay Baseball coach dies

SAN ANTONIO – Longtime Jay High School baseball coach Johnny Campos died Monday afternoon at a San Antonio hospital.  

The cause of death was not immediately known. Campos, who had headed the Mustangs' baseball program since 1987 and was in his 33rd year as a member of the Jay coaching staff, was 58. 

Campos showed up for football practice Monday morning but never went on the field, Jay head football coach Gary Gutierrez said Tuesday morning. 

“He just said 'Coach, I'm not feeling well,'" Gutierrez said. "He said his hip was hurting him. Our trainer took him to the emergency room."

Gutierrez said he got word of Campos' passing at about 5 p.m. Monday.   

"Johnny coached at Jay so long that he coached some of the fathers and grandfathers of kids at Jay today," Gutierrez said. "He coached generations here at John Jay, and impacted the lives of a lot of young men and women. There is no doubt that we are in grief right now at Jay High School.”

In addition to being the Mustangs’ head baseball coach, Campos coached the football team’s running backs and coordinated its special teams. Gutierrez met with the school's football and baseball players Tuesday. .   

“When we coach, we spend a lot of time together,” Gutierrez said. “Johnny was here so long that he was my go-to guy on anything. He was my mentor. He was tremendous. I remember walking in the first day, and him giving me information on how things worked. We developed a very strong relationship. This is a tough blow to all of us. at John Jay and the community."

Northside ISD athletic director Stan Laing coached with Campos at Jay for four years (1994-98). Laing has fond memories of Campos and those days at Jay. 

"Johnny didn't just care about kids, he truly loved his athletes, the young people he worked with," Laing said. "He was so good at making  a difference in young people's lives. That's just a common thread you find in great coaches. They just have a passion for what they do. Johnny had that passion.

"His longevity at Jay speaks well for Johnny. It reflects his loyalty to the John Jay community, his love for that community. That's why he was there for so long. That just characterizes the type of person that Johnny was. His formerr always went back to Jay to see him. That's the kind of impact he had on them." 

Gutierrez, 39, has been head football coach at Jay since 2013.

Coaches throughout San Antonio expressed sadness over Campos’ passing. They also praised his dedication to coaching and his commitment to be a good mentor.   

“Johnny was like the godfather of high school baseball coaches in San Antonio,” said former Highlands baseball coach Mike Perez, now an assistant athletic director in the San Antonio ISD. “Thirty years at John Jay High School. He coached until he passed away. Johnny was a good guy, always there for the players. I’m just in shock.”

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Highlands head football coach Juan Morales was on the Jay staff with Campos for 13 years before joining Stephen Basore’s staff at Brennan in the spring of 2012. Morales and Campos developed a strong friendship that continued after Morales left Jay.

 “I was set back quite a bit when I got the call from Coach Montoya,” Juan Morales said, referring to Jay assistant coach Dante Montoya. “It was tough. I was really in disbelief for quite a while. I started making calls to other coaches who worked with Johnny at Jay at one time.”

Highly popular with players and coaches alike, Campos led Jay to nearly 400 victories in his 32 seasons as head baseball coach. He was an assistant coach for two years before getting promoted. Campos moved to Jay from Clemens, where he was an assistant coach to Harold Sinclair, at the start of the 1984-85 school year. 

“Johnny was like the godfather of high school baseball coaches in San Antonio,” said former Highlands baseball coach Mike Perez, now an assistant athletic director in the San Antonio ISD. “Thirty years at John Jay High School. He coached until he passed away. Johnny was a good guy, always there for the players. I’m just in shock.”

Perez said he got to know Campos well when he coached against him, and looked up to him as a mentor. 

“We could sit down after baseball games or baseball all-star practice and just talk,” Perez, 50, said. “He always had a good story. He was fun to talk to. When I was an assistant coach at Edison and McCollum, he always helped me out. If you needed anything, he was there for you.”

In addition to coaching at Jay, Campos directed the Valley-Hi Optimist all-star baseball game in San Antonio for 25 years.

“He was really involved in that,” Perez said. “That’s how so many coaches got to know him. He just loved baseball.”

A 1975 Carrizo Springs High School graduate, Campos was a baseball standout for the Wildcats. He began his coaching career after earning his degree at Southwest Texas State, now Texas State, in 1980.

Campos is survived by a son and a daughter. 

The Northside Independent School District also released the following statement Tuesday:

"Northside ISD, and specifically the John Jay High School community, mourns the loss of long-time head baseball coach Johnny Campos. Coach Campos, hired in August 1984, had spent his entire career in the John Jay community. He had a positive impact on many student athletes and colleagues and our thoughts and condolences are with his family."

(© 2016 KENS)


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