Coosa High School students and teachers faced off against one another Thursday to honor the memory of Fernando Guzman with the fourth annual Phern’s Cup which raises money for the Guzman scholarship.
For the last three years of the cup Guzman hand-selected the team that would play against the faculty, however this year the student teams were selected by a committee. A statement read by Olivia Parker before the game said the committee chose students who they believed would have been chosen by Guzman himself. Teacher Chris Parker said they had students sign up and list the reason why they wanted to play in Phern’s Cup.
“The kids who were all out here wanted to play because they knew Phern and they wanted to honor Phern,” Parker said.
As for the nickname Phern, Parker said at some point during his journey Fernando decided it would be fun to spell it with a ph. On the trophy the teams are listed as Phern’s team for the students and phaculty for the teachers, he said.
“He always said if it’s Fernando — ‘F,’ if its his nickname Phern — ‘Ph,’” Carly Comer said. “He liked to be different.”
The faculty team triumphed over the students for the second year in a row, although it was the first time the game did not end in penalty kicks, Parker said. The final score was 3-2 and Principal LaDonna Turrentine claimed the soccer ball trophy on behalf of the faculty.
“This was the best coordinated team we have ever faced,” he said.
Tickets were sold for $3 a piece before the game and all funds will be combined with T-shirt and concession sales to go into the Guzman scholarship fund. The scholarship will be awarded to one senior at the end of the year who has overcome serious adversity to make it to graduation, he said. The original idea was to give the money to Guzman, but as his cause became more well-known Parker and others decided to give him a legacy through the scholarship instead.
“Phern was real special, he was a good kid,” Charman Putnam, one of Guzman’s school moms said.
Guzman’s younger brothers, Guztavo and Usvaldo Guzman, attended the game and caught up with friends of Fernando’s. The two hugged Putnam and caught up while watching the game.
“I think it’s cool they hold a whole event for him,” Usvaldo said.
“I love coming out here and making the most of the event,” added Guztavo.
The two said they wish they could play in Phern’s Cup, but since they both go to Rome High School they will have to watch.
This was the second year Phern’s Cup was held without Fernando Guzman, who passed away in January 2018 after a seven-year battle with cancer. Parker said he hopes the scholarship fund and legacy will be long lasting.