HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Longtime athletic trainer Raul “Doc Z” Zamarripa recently passed away at the age of 71 after a long battle with colon cancer.

The Brownsville native began his career as an athletic trainer in the 1970s. He retired in 2015 but kept on working on a fill-in basis after retirement.

“When he originally started, he was one of the first pioneer trainers in the Rio Grande Valley,” said Zamarripa’s wife, Nora Zamarripa. “He was also Hispanic. He was bridging the gap for all the other people to follow in his footsteps.”

Doc Z worked at more than a handful of Rio Grande Valley high schools. He is best known for his stops at Harlingen and Edinburg. Zamarripa also worked at Monte Alto, Weslaco, St. Joseph, Port Isabel, and Santa Rosa.

Zamarripa was inducted into the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

He won numerous awards for his work as an athletic trainer, including the Texas High School Coaches Association’s Athletic Trainer of the Year in 2015.

“He wasn’t afraid to give up extra time,” Nora said. “He would meet up on Sundays or whenever they needed to give them more treatments and therapies so they could do the things they wanted as student-athletes.”