A vital player on some of Carroll County High School’s greatest soccer teams passed away Monday morning.
Isai “Pee Wee” Faustino, 24, passed tragically early Monday morning after a wreck in Mount Airy, N.C. According to John Shelton, Emergency Services Director for Surry County, Faustino was involved in an accident at 11:40 p.m. on Sunday night. Shelton said Faustino was driving a Chevrolet Blazer when he left the roadway on Interstate 74 traveling west. Shelton said Faustino was getting off Exit 6 for N.C. 89 when he lost control of the vehicle, hit an embankment, overturning the vehicle several times and ejecting him from the vehicle.
Shelton said Faustino was airlifted from the scene to the Trauma Center at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., where he passed away sometime after 2 a.m. Monday morning.
Shelton said Pine Ridge Volunteer Fire Department, Mount Airy Rescue Squad and Surry County Emergency Services responded to the scene.
Faustino was a mainstay on the Cavaliers’ boys’ soccer teams from 2004-2007, which could perhaps be called the golden age of Carroll County soccer. Faustino was a part of the 2005 team that won the second regular season district title and third tournament district title in school history. The Cavaliers also reached the Region IV Semifinals in Faustino’s freshmen and sophomore seasons of 2004 and 2005.
Marion Harris, now the JV soccer coach at CCHS, served as the varsity head coach all four of Pee Wee’s varsity seasons. He remembers Faustino as a versatile player who earned All-Southwest District honors twice, but also for his positive attitude.
“We won the district in 2005 and he played a vital role in it. He played pretty much anything I needed him to. He played almost every position on the field,” Harris said. “His senior season his finished the year in goal and he was a really good midfielder. He always gave 100 percent.”
Harris’s relationship with Faustino reached well varsity soccer. Faustino was also one of Harris’s students, and Faustino’s nephew played two seasons of travel soccer for Harris. More recently, Harris said Faustino coached an indoor soccer team.
“He wanted to contribute back to the future players of our area. He always had a good attitude,” Harris said. “A lot of his teammates from those four years have contacted me since they have found out and have really been upset about it. He always had a smile on his face and he just always wanted to brighten people’s day.”
Charles Horton was an assistant coach for the varsity team during the early stages of Faustino’s soccer career. The moment that stands out most to him came during Faustino’s senior year of 2007, when Horton was coaching JV soccer. Having moved to goalkeeper due to an injury to the starter, Horton remembers Faustino making one of the biggest plays in Carroll County soccer history.
“Carroll and Galax were playing and they were tied 1-1. Galax got a penalty kick in the last minute. It was literally the last kick of the game,” Horton recalled. “Pee Wee was in goal and I remember him stopping the penalty kick, saving the tie, and I remember us going crazy. I was jumping and screaming and some of the other coaches were looking at me like I was from Mars. But it was such a big moment because it was the best result Carroll had against Galax in a long time.”
Horton said he couldn’t ever remember a time when Faustino wasn’t smiling. Johnny Gardner, who graduated from CCHS in 2005, played two years of varsity soccer with Faustino. He echoed Horton’s sentiments.
“He always had a smile on his face, was always in a good mood. I don’t think I ever saw him negative,” Gardner said. “He would get mad on the field, which everybody does, but off the field he was always in a good mood and always uplifting to others.”
Gardner said Faustino was fairly quiet, but was always full of energy and always laughing and joking. He remembers Faustino displaying leadership skills even as a very young soccer player on teams with talented upperclassmen.
“I played sweeper on the defense and I do remember him yelling at me and telling me where to go. He was just very smart, even as a young player,” Gardner said. “He wasn’t always the most vocal, but he was kind of a silent leader even as an underclassman. Anywhere you needed him, if somebody couldn’t play, you could just throw Pee Wee in there and we didn’t miss a beat.”