Crystal Marie Marousis Handchen was a teacher, coach, and mentor who deeply cared about her students. If she suspected that someone was hungry in class or on the field, she’d hand them a healthy snack from a stash in her always-brimming “cheer bag.” When she sensed a problem at home, she didn’t let it pass. She’d ask the questions that most feel uncomfortable asking, then quietly dropped off groceries to students whose families were struggling. Or buy that dress and hair and makeup session for the girl who couldn’t afford it so that prom night was as special for her as for anyone.
Crystal was personally driven to excel in all things and drove her students and athletes to succeed – in tough but kind ways.
She sent personal notes of encouragement on megaphone- shaped stationery before cheerleading competitions to each of her squad members: That style made her a winning coach who helped her team bring home national titles and numerous awards and secure invites to perform for the likes of the N.Y. Giants and Jets.
Her “see the whole student” approach, often telling students and athletes to “walk with her, never behind her,” made Crystal an incredible mentor.
Starting at the elementary level in 1980, Crystal taught in Brick schools for her entire career. She also ignited another lifelong passion the same year by beginning her coaching career, first leading the Brick Pop Warner cheer team, then coaching cheerleading and gymnastics for BTHS and Brick Memorial High School. She coached the Mustang cheerleaders for over 27 years. Retiring in 2014, Crystal moved to Pinehurst, North Carolina with her husband Rick. As one to never sit idle, Crystal was hired as varsity coach at Pinecrest shortly after.
Crystal Marousis Handchen was a passionate and vivacious teacher and coach who believed in the power of high school sports/extracurricular activities and success. She truly loved her students and athletes.
View The Legacy You Leave as a Coach Video of Crystal.
The CMH Walk With Me Foundation was created in the honor of Crystal Marousis Handchen. The Walk With Me Foundation is designed to raise funds to support high school athletics, extracurricular programs and present cheerleading scholarships to deserving participants in New Jersey and North Carolina. This is done through annual scholarship offerings at Brick Memorial High School, Brick, New Jersey and Pinecrest High School, Southern Pines, North Carolina. And with your support, one day across the nation.
The foundation organizes and runs a series of fundraisers throughout the year to raise the money for these offerings. With your support, students will have the opportunity to not only participate, but also learn equity, respect, and pride, the values Crystal lived, taught, and coached by.
The founding partners of the CMH Walk With Me Foundation are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of students. In Crystal’s honor, we aspire together, we act together, we walk together.
Walk with me, never behind me. A simple phrase with great meaning; one of equity, respect, and pride. A phrase made even more impactful when said to a student in need of guidance, an athlete in need of encouragement, or a friend in need of support. These are words that can be shared in times of celebration and times of crisis. These are words that make someone take notice and take action. These were words that, in the moment, may be a reminder, and later resonate as a life lesson.
Crystal Marousis Handchen was a teacher, coach, and mentor. She would immediately make you part of her extended family. Crystal had high expectations of herself and of those around her. Once you were part of her world, she insisted that you walk with her, never behind her.
Crystal was an advocate for students, athletes, and she was passionate about high school cheerleading. Crystal believed that there was a correlation between achievement in the classroom and success on the athletic fields and through extracurricular programs. She also believed that every student who was willing to work for an opportunity to be a champion should have the opportunity to do so, despite any obstacles that might stand in the way.
The Walk With Me Foundation was founded in Coach Crystal’s honor to continue her incredible legacy.
– Michael Liebman, Crystal’s Former Partner Teacher