Andrea Rivera-Maldonado

Coach Ray spent his lifetime surrounded by football, and he made a lasting impact on the players who knew him.

Malavika Kannan, Editor-in-Chief

Seminole High School is mourning the loss of beloved football coach Raymond Caraballo. Affectionately known as Coach Ray, the 29-year-old linebacker coach was a cornerstone of the SHS athletic community. Caraballo passed away in a construction accident last Friday, just hours before the Senior Night football game.

A former high school football player himself, Caraballo was a linebacker for University High School, from which he graduated in 2007. He attended UCF for his bachelor’s degree, where he was often seen cheering for the football team and attending barbeques with his future wife and fellow sports fanatic, Morgan Douglass. Last year, Caraballo married Douglass, and they recently moved into their first home. It had always been a dream of theirs to have a large yard for their dog, Tucker.

Caraballo began working with the SHS team last fall, drawing on a lifetime of football experience. As a coach at SHS, Caraballo worked most closely with the linebackers, but he also watched defense from the press box during weekly games.

Don Stark, the head football coach, knew Caraballo for six years. He watched his coaching career evolve from University High School to The Master’s Academy to SHS. He remembers Caraballo’s passion for coaching, in spite of his busy work life.

“I remember him constantly changing jobs from Target and Whole Foods because they would try to promote him, but then it would mean he wouldn’t still be able to coach,” said Stark. “He would go on interviews, [but] then he would say that he couldn’t take the job because he had to [leave] at 1:30 to be at practice.”

Football was a sport close to his heart, and he dedicated his career to helping his students grow—both as players and human beings. Those who knew him remember him most for his warmth, compassion, and humorous soul.

Junior Jordan Smith, a middle linebacker, described Caraballo as “an older brother that he never had.” To him, Caraballo represented a steady source of support and solidarity that he’ll never forget.

“My own brothers were in and out of trouble, but Coach Ray was a good role model for me,” said Smith. “I remember how he used to take me and the other players out to eat, and we were just cracking jokes. He was just the funniest dude out here.”

In the face of Caraballo’s passing, the SHS community came together and rallied around the team. Before Friday’s game, which was played against Bishop Moore High School, a moment of silence was held in his honor.

For the football players themselves, Friday’s game was bittersweet—marked by grief over Caraballo’s loss, but also determination to win the game in his honor. After the suspenseful game—which SHS won 31-30–the players gathered on the field to release balloons in memory of their coach.

“When we knew that he wasn’t here with us [any] more, it was difficult,” said defensive linebacker junior Michael Bradley. “We had heavy hearts. But we just played for him, and we won.”

A visitation is scheduled for Nov. 10 at 5 p.m. at the Baldwin-Fairchild Oaklawn Chapel. A service to celebrate his life will follow the visitation at 7 p.m. In lieu of flowers, his family requests well-wishers to send donations to the SHS Football Booster.

Beneath the Friday Night Lights—and beyond—Coach Ray left an undeniable mark on an entire generation of SHS students. He will be greatly missed by the community he cared so much about.

“Somehow he’d make a way,” said Smith. “He was never selfish. He was always bound to help, even if times were tough for him, no matter who it was.”