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Linarez provided love, laughs to youth

By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Geno Linarez sat in the dugout for many a tough loss when the Placer High softball team struggled through some lean seasons a few years back. But you would never know it by the grin on his face and the hop in his step. “He was the type of guy who was always upbeat,” said Tammy Linarez, Geno’s wife of more than 30 years. “He always looked out for the little guy, the underdog. He was always concerned about kids and wanted to make sure they could try for whatever they wanted to be.” Geno Linarez died last week at the age of 56 after a seven-month battle with liver cancer. Placer High’s Earl Crabbe Gym will host a celebration of life today at 1 p.m. A lifelong Auburn resident, Linarez grew up on Finley Street, just a stone’s throw from the high school. He relished his time on the courts and fields at the school in his youth and on into adulthood as he became involved with coaching several different sports. Linarez and his wife were softball teammates for many years and he was heavily involved with Auburn Recreation District sports for decades. He founded the Miss October Softball Tournament, which has developed into a very popular event each fall, drawing teams from all over the region to play at Beggs Field each fall. As a basketball coach, Linarez left a lasting impression on hundreds of players. He coached at E.V. Cain before joining the Placer High staff as an assistant. He most recently assisted Placer freshman coach Malcom Means. Linarez had four children who all graduated from Placer: Geno Jr., 35, Angela, 25, Rachel, 21, and Toney, 18. Al Lauer, owner of Cherry Records in Auburn, was a longtime friend of Linarez. “His focus was on family and helping as many young people as he could,” Lauer said. “And another thing about Gene was, there was nobody that came in contact with him for any significant time that didn’t break out laughing at something he said. You could not contain it.” Lauer was busy Friday compiling some of Linarez’s favorite tunes. He is putting together a CD and selling it, with proceeds going to the Linarez family. “He loved bands like Tower of Power, Taj Majal, Sly and the Family Stone, War and Stevie Wonder,” Lauer said. The Linarez family welcomed hundreds of visitors into their home in the week before Geno passed. He relished the chance to catch up with friends, former players and fellow coaches. “On the way home from the hospital he told me, ‘I just hope someone will remember me as a good person,’” Tammy said. “We drove down our street and there was already a line of people waiting to see him. He wanted to see everybody. It was just amazing. “We would open the door in the morning and there would be cards and letters on the porch. He read every one and spoke to everyone who came. He was bright and alert until the last day and a half and we were so thankful for that.”