Lyndhurst mourns passing of soccer coach Arcentales

Evelyn Arcentales was asked how she would best remember her husband, Fausto.

“He was always a happy person,” Evelyn Arcentales said of her husband, who tragically passed away on Sept. 8 at the age of 47. “Whether in sports or in life, he was always happy. Through the years, if his team played well, he was happy. He didn’t care if they won or lost, just if they played well.”

Over the last few years, Fausto Arcentales was a fixture at Lyndhurst High School sporting events. As soon as son Giovanni became old enough to play sports at Lyndhurst, Fausto was there, eventually becoming a volunteer coach with the Lyndhurst boys’ soccer team.

Denis Jelcic took over the Lyndhurst boys’ soccer program in 2014.

“One of the first players I had was Gio,” Jelcic said. “Halfway through that season, Gio came up to me and said, ‘Hey, Coach, my Dad really wants to help out. I don’t want him to help, but he wants to.’ That’s where my relationship with Fausto began.”

Jelcic reluctantly allowed Arcentales to address the team.

“I said, ‘If you have any words of wisdom, go right ahead,’” Jelcic said. “That’s where it just went off from there.”

Jelcic said that he noticed one thing right away about his volunteer coach.

“He really had such passion,” Jelcic said. “The one thing I noticed right away is the passion he had. He taught that European style of soccer. He had that passion and he brought that with him until the end. There were a lot of people who asked, ‘Who’s Lyndhurst?’ and he wanted everyone to know who we were. He had a huge impact on me and on the team and how we played. He had an impact with the entire athletic program at Lyndhurst.”

Evelyn Arcentales spent the last 22 years being Fausto Arcentales’ husband.

It wasn’t easy, especially in the early going, when Fausto was a young coach in his native Nutley.

“He actually ended up coaching my brother,” Evelyn Arcentales said. “And he ended up coaching his little brother.”

Those were the days when Fausto was spreading his knowledge on the youngsters in Clifton with the famed Clifton Stallions soccer program.

“We started dating and then after about six years, we got married,” Evelyn Arcentales said. “In the beginning, it was tough trying to keep up with him, but I realized how important it was to him. It’s what he loved to do, so I learned to embrace it.”
So much so that Evelyn got involved in Fausto’s passion.

“I’d come to practices and I loved watching him interact with the kids,” Evelyn Arcentales said. “I could see how happy the kids made him and how happy he made the kids.”

And most of Fausto’s free time was spent coaching kids.

“Sometimes, I’d ask him what day this week was he going to spend with me,” Evelyn said. “Even after my son graduated, he would still go and still support all the teams. That’s what he loved to do.”

Jelcic said that he became very close to Fausto over the last few years.

“We were like brothers,” Jelcic said. “We would fight about things, but we wouldn’t let it get in the way of our friendship. We would have arguments, but you can feel the passion in his arguments.”

When word got out that Coach Fausto had passed – albeit on a soccer field playing the sport he loved – Jelcic organized a memorial at the high school field. By just word of mouth, more than 200 people – soccer players, other athletes and just other Lyndhurst people – convened on the high school field holding candles and showing their love and support.

“Seeing so many kids there made me realize just how much of an impact he had on them,” Evelyn Arcentales said. “It really was beautiful. It helped my healing process. They were there just because he was a good guy. It was amazing to see how many people loved him and respected him. It was even more than I thought. And he was coaching because he loved it. He was a volunteer. He did it with his love. ”

“That was a big thing,” Jelcic said. “The kids were destroyed, devastated. I have to use the word devastating in this case.”

The Lyndhurst soccer team decided to dedicate their season to Coach Fausto and his memory.

“To me, he was a great coach and teacher,” said Lyndhurst captain Tommy Zurkowski said. “He taught us all how to play the game, his style of soccer. He motivated me and got the most out of me.”

Zurkowski was asked how he will remember his coach and mentor.

“Just the way he talked,” Zurkowski said. “He was hard on us at times, but he motivated us. He was the best one to motivate us. He had these little stories and slogans. He was a really funny guy. He had a good sense of humor.”

Zurowski relayed the atmosphere of the Golden Bears’ locker room before the team’s next game.

“Everyone was upset,” Zurkowski said. “We decided to dedicate the season for him and try our best for him. So every single game is for him. We know he’s watching.”

Jelcic will always remember one thing.

“His passion,” Jelcic said. “His love for everyone. Not just his family, but his friends and everyone around him. He was there for everyone. He had such love and passion for everyone else.”

Evelyn was all set to celebrate their 22nd anniversary and Fausto’s birthday next month. That will not happen.

“Sometimes it takes a tragedy like this one to bring everyone together,” Evelyn Arcentales said. “Whatever he did, he did it for someone else.”

Truly, a good man gone too soon. He will be so sorely missed.

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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”