top of page
I didn’t start playing sports until I was 9 years old because my home life wasn’t stable. My parents separated when I was three, and my brother moved to Arizona with my dad. I would go see them on weekends, which made it hard to be on a team. Back in California, there was no discipline or structure in my house. Schoolwork wasn’t a priority. By the time I got to high school, I was throwing it all away.
But I had football. And I had my coach, Ed Slack. He saw where I was heading and he showed me it wasn’t going to get me anywhere. He ended up taking me in for six years — I finished high school living with his family. They would have dinner together every night, talk about their days. He told me that when the dust settles, your family is going to be there. He used to tell me, “You’re part of my family. My world goes round when you guys are all okay. When someone's not okay, my world stops until you're okay.”
I took that to heart. He and my wife’s family — I started dating her when I was 16 — made me who I am today. We’ve brought what he taught me to how we’re raising our four kids. I’ve coached all my kids, from baseball, football and soccer to softball and basketball, you name it. If they ask me to be part of it, I'm not going to miss out. My kids are the foundation of what I’m building here. They’re my legacy. And I expect a lot out of them. We don't do average and we don't push them to the point where they don't like it, but we let them know we're going to challenge them. They realize we're not talking about tomorrow. We're not talking about next week. We're talking about the rest of your life. I want them to understand that not everything's going to go as smooth as possible, but your family has your back. Lean on us and we'll help you get through it.
We're not talking about next week. We're talking about the rest of your life.
In December, I got a call that my brother had taken his own life. We talked two or three times a week, calling each other on our drives home from work. What I struggled with was, if you were feeling this way, why didn’t you tell me? It turned my world upside down. He has a 24-year-old daughter, a 6-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son, and they needed me. I was going back and forth to Arizona. It was a lot of stress, a lot of emotions. I just kept bearing it. Sometimes it becomes unbearable, and you kind of lose yourself.
I lean on my wife a lot. She's a beautiful person. She helps me out tremendously. But I also lean on my kids. My youngest daughter, she would just look me in the face and ask me if I'm okay. My oldest daughter does the same thing. I get check-ins from my boys when they're away at college. “How you doing today, Dad? You need to talk?” So, that’s what we’ve been teaching our kids. Ask people in need three separate questions: How are you doing? Are you okay? Do you need anything from me? We're learning to cope with him being gone and we’re doing it as a family.
When you’re Mexican-American, family is key. You have a birthday party for a 5-year-old and you try to have 20 people there and 80 people show up and you have a big old cookout. For me, growing up was taking bits and parts of that heritage, and what certain people taught me and realizing what I wanted in my own family. And I think I've done that. When people think of the Coronado name, I hope they think of strength, stability, humbleness and gratitude. I'm thankful to be a Coronado. I really am.
Gilbert Coronado is the safety manager at our Chicken Ranch Casino Resort project in Jamestown, Calif. He and his wife are the proud parents of four accomplished scholar athletes.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, you can get free and confidential support by calling the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
bottom of page