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Youth coach recovering from stroke
Tom Vasquez was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2008.

On July 20, the 1980 Ceres High graduate and longtime youth football coach suffered a stroke while working on cabinets at a job site in Antioch. He had a blood clot in the back of his brain.

"The room started spinning and I collapsed," Tom said. "It's the first time I've been admitted to a hospital in my life. It's kind of scary."

Vasquez, 48, will continue to coach the Ceres Raptors varsity youth football team.

Tom will also get a chance to watch Miranda, his 12-year-old daughter, cheer.

The 2010 season gets underway later this month.

"I'd rather die doing what I love instead of stewing at home wishing I was out there," said Vasquez, who spent two weeks and two days in the hospital and rehab. "My health isn't going to keep me from being with these kids."

Tom will use a wheelchair until his balance improves. He also has a cane.

"The neurologist said I should make a 100 percent recovery," Vasquez stated. "It's just a little speed bump in life."

Under Tom's guidance, Ceres compiled an 8-5 record and upset the previously-unbeaten Modesto Raiders on its way to advancing to the National Youth Football League South Division championship game during its inaugural season. The Raptors suffered a heart-breaking 13-12 loss to the Modesto Jr. Eagles.

Ceres had won four of its previous five games.

"We actually have a good-looking team," Vasquez said. "I think we're just as talented as last year. We have more speed at more positions. But we're a little smaller. I'm excited."

The Raptors' top returners are Ever DelaTorre (RB/LB), Harmon Chung (OL/DL), Gerback Dhami (OL/DL), William Plamback (OL/DL) and Sean Ward (RB/OL/DL).

Ceres has a host of newcomers, including standouts Javier Riojas (QB/LB) and Danny Arias (RB/LB).

The Raptors open the season at home against Modesto Jets on Saturday. The two teams will face off at Blaker-Kinser Jr. High. The game will begin at 3 p.m.

Vasquez plans to coach from the stands.

"I'll probably be on a walkie talkie trying to contain myself," he said.

Tom wants to return to the sidelines before the season ends.

"I'll be out there on the field," he said. "You watch."