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Familiar Faces, Unknown Names: Cory Cruze

He’s loud, he’s tall, he loves to laugh. He walks with a sort of swagger, arms swinging at his sides. He arrives on campus in the same car as the chairman of CB’s MVPA department. I’m describing to you the one, the only, Cory Cruze (’22). As the stepson of KBFT Director Mr. Brendan Hogan […]

He’s loud, he’s tall, he loves to laugh. He walks with a sort of swagger, arms swinging at his sides. He arrives on campus in the same car as the chairman of CB’s MVPA department. I’m describing to you the one, the only, Cory Cruze (’22).

As the stepson of KBFT Director Mr. Brendan Hogan ’95, I knew Cory would be the perfect unique story for my final installment of “Familiar Faces, Unknown Names”. Over a FaceTime call, I watched him bustle around his kitchen making a grilled cheese sandwich and asked him to tell me about his family.

Cory was originally born in Oregon to Lisa Herrera and Paul Cruze. Lisa moved to California when Cory was still a baby, and Paul quickly followed. Both sides of Cory’s family reside in good ol’ Cali, but Lisa lives in Sacramento with her husband Hogan and their two kids, while Paul is in Placerville with his wife and their two kids. Lisa met Mr. Hogan when Cory was eighteen months old, and about a month after that, Hogan met Cory for the first time. Got all that? Good.

Fast forward a little — picture Cory at about four years old, his mom in need of somewhere to drop him off after school while she was at work. Mr. Hogan dutifully stepped in, but with him working into the evening, there was really only one option: self-inflicted bring-your-kid-to-work day. As such, Cory practically grew up on this campus. He has a relationship with the school unlike what any other student has.

“I’m not kidding when I say I’ve been going to this school for twelve years.” he chuckled, a nostalgic smile on his face. “CB has always been like a third home to me. I always dreamed of going to high school there. I also have a close connection with a lot of the teachers. I’ve seen teachers come and go for years. Like, teachers who were there when I was a kid aren’t there anymore, and some of the ones I’m closest to I didn’t even know ’til I was a freshman. It’s really crazy, ’cause I thought I knew the school so well — and I do, to some extent — but there really is no experience like being a student.”

Being raised by an alumnus stepfather, Cory has been “bleeding blue” since he was little. He’d been wearing the attire and cheering on the Falcons practically his whole life, but it took until his sophomore year to join the football team.

“I was never a big sports guy,” he said. “My freshman year, I didn’t play any [sports]. I was never really passionate about sports until I got really passionate about football my sophomore year.”

He paused to let me type his response and took a bite of his grilled cheese. He chewed thoughtfully, remembering being on the field in a pre-COVID world.

“I really enjoy playing. It’s like a family, you know? These guys are going to have my back, no matter what. We all give each other a lot of crap, and we mess around a lot, but I know they’re gonna be there for me on the field. There’s something really comforting about that brotherhood.”

Of course, the pandemic has put quite the damper on his involvement in football. But he likes to stay active. So motivated by his desire for movement — and with the help of his dad, Paul — he returned to something he loved as a kid: martial arts. In particular, boxing. With a punching bag set up in his garage, he spends about an hour a day hitting the bag.

“That’s what the professionals call it,” he tells me with a smile.

But he’s not one to box himself into a single kind of hobby. Cory loves music. Growing up, he wanted to take video production with his stepdad when he finally got to CB. But his freshman year, on a whim, he decided to take choir. He fell in love with Mr. Christian Bohm’s teaching and the atmosphere the class created. Since then, his interest in music has grown.

“I love writing and music and singing. I released a couple really bad songs about a year ago,” he barked out a laugh, brushing his hands together to get the crumbs off. “I’ve always loved music, and making it, so I make music in my spare time.”

Some people also know Cory as “mini-Hogan”. I was specifically asked to address this topic. Cory wants to make his own name at CB; it’s tough having your name constantly associated with someone seemingly more well-known, more well-liked than you. Understandably, he wants to separate himself from it. Now, mind you, this isn’t out of resentment towards his old man — he’s been calling Mr. Hogan his dad since he was three, and the two have a very special bond. Cory simply wants to forge his own legacy.

But what would one of these articles be without outside sources? And the story would have suffered a tragic loss had I missed the opportunity to get an interview with the man behind KBFT himself.

Right off the bat, Mr. Hogan knew Cory was a good kid — rambunctious and wild, fun and full of energy. Mr. Hogan grinned as he told me stories from their initial relationship: the first time Hogan watched him, a summer day they spent in a blow-up kiddie pool; a special episode of KBFT’s The Studio, named after and starring Cory; Hogan introducing Cory to Star Wars, which quickly became one of Cory’s favorite pieces of pop culture.

As I write this article, knowing I won’t be returning to the Talon next semester, I realize how much I’m going to miss doing these. One of my favorite interview questions, one that’s served as a backbone for this series, is: “What are three words you would to describe this person and why?”

Let me tell you — there’s something different about getting the answer from someone’s parent.

“Cory has always been one of the most imaginative people around. He can envelop himself in worlds, whatever the world is. Whether it’s Star Wars or a book or a play,” Mr. Hogan says. “And so watching him grow up like that was always fun, because he could imagine things almost to the point of exhaustion for me.”

Hogan laughed fondly, a hand over his chest.

“Of course, this was when he was very young, but in a lot of ways, he’s still like that.”

Something I learned from Mr. Hogan, even though he didn’t say it in exact words, is that Cory is very family-oriented. He holds tradition and shared memories close to his heart. He also tends to consider his friends family. I talked to his cousin, Ashley Kelly, who confirmed this trait.

Cory looking sharp with his festively-dressed cousins, Alyssa (left) and Ashley (right) Kelly, after a CB choir concert.

“Cory is the person you want to be your best friend,” she says. “He’ll be there always. He’s definitely someone you want on your side.”

I may have only been on a phone call with her, but I could tell she was smiling, even without seeing her face. Ashley said Cory is an open book, the kind of person you can have easy conversation with — someone who’ll both listen to you and keep the chat from going dull. He is fiercely loyal and loves with his whole heart.

It’s clear that he’s made a lasting impression on the people he holds close. So how would Cory go about carving a name for himself? There’s one thing he wants people to know.

“I feel like people have always been, ‘Oh, it’s Cory.’ They think I talk too much, they think I’m annoying. But I love people, I love talking to people, I love being around people. So if anybody needs someone to talk to, I’m there. I’m not a bad guy. I’m actually pretty awesome.”

He smiled wide, but then it quickly dropped from his face. He sighed, small and reserved, a rare, but genuine, side of him.

“My outer shell definitely isn’t great. On the outside, I can be kind of cocky, boastful. But I try to be a sincere person. I really care about people. If somebody is my friend, I will always have their back.

“So, yeah… get to know me. You might just make a best friend out of it.”

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