Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2014

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Bonanza High mourns death of state championship-winning volleyball coach

Even as Bonanza High School teacher and coach Joe Cap fought for his life in a Las Vegas hospital, he couldn’t take his mind off his volleyball team.

“I’d been text messaging him, providing him updates on scores from girls volleyball games,” said Bonanza’s athletic director Derek Stafford. “He was talking about making it to Senior Night against Bishop Gorman.”

Cap never got a chance to see his team take the court on Senior Night. Three weeks after entering the hospital with pneumonia-like symptoms, the beloved teacher and mentor died Wednesday at the age of 36.

“Nobody really expected him to pass away, nobody thought about that,” said Bonanza junior Brian Clow. “We were all just waiting for him to come back.”

Cap’s death has shocked the school community he’d been a part of since 2008.

A friendly and outgoing personality who coached men and women’s volleyball, students said Cap was always around to offer sage advice or a helping hand.

“He was always there after school. You could go up to him as a friend, a teacher, a coach and ask him anything, and he’d be there for you,” said senior Manny Zepeda. “He was a great mentor. He helped students figure out their majors and their colleges, what they wanted to do with their life.”

Prior to teaching at Bonanza, Cap worked for several years at Sierra Vista High School. He coached Bonanza’s men’s volleyball team to a perfect 23-0 record and a state championship in 2011.

In addition to volleyball, Cap was involved with several other sports team at Bonanza and taught a variety of classes, including anatomy, physical education and sports management.

Clow, who played on the school volleyball team, said Cap “lived and breathed volleyball” and was known among players for his passionate pep talks.

For many students, Cap was an integral part of the high school experience, and Zepeda, another member of the volleyball team, said he’s sad he won’t be able to share his senior year with his coach.

“He was supposed to come support us at graduation, at assemblies. He’s been with us for all of this,” Zepeda said. “He was a part of the Bonanza family. We all loved him.”

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