The area’s youth football community has launched a fundraiser to cover funeral expenses for Albert “Coach Bigg” Okumbe, who coached for many years with the Mariner Jr. Football team and most recently this spring for the MTYAA Hawks Jr. Football team.
Mariner Jr. head coach Joel Anker started an online memorial fundraiser after Okumbe died suddenly. Donations will be used to help his widow Christina Rexroth transport him back to his hometown of Stockton, California and to cover funeral costs.
“Coach Bigg had such a positive effect on so many in the Mariner football family; he was like the soul of this program,” Anker noted, adding that he “coached so many of our kids through the years and this is a huge loss for the community, for the program and especially his family and friends.”
So far, the fundraising effort had raised just over $2,500 towards its $15,000 goal.
Those who knew Okumbe said teaching the sport of football to younger generations was his way of being a positive influence.
“Words can’t describe how much we are all going to miss him and the impact he made on so many,” Anker said. “He loved every one of our kids like his own and we will miss his smile, “Bigg” laugh, happy demeanor, and the love and support he showed us all.”
Both programs Okumbe coached with are part of the North Sound Junior Football League, which operates youth teams for participants ages 5-14 throughout Snohomish County. The league is a “high school feeder” model with squad boundaries based off those school districts.