‘A top-notch per­son’

For­mer CBU soccer coach Rob­bie Chiasson re­mem­bered as fam­ily man and in­flu­en­tial sports men­tor

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVID JALA

Rob­bie Chiasson is be­ing re­mem­bered as a car­ing fam­ily man and in­flu­en­tial men­tor to the many ath­letes he coached over the years.

The 49-year-old mar­ried fa­ther of three died early Sun­day fol­low­ing an all-ter­rain ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dent in his home­town of New Water­ford. He is sur­vived by wife Amanda and chil­dren Conor, Catie and Justin.

The pass­ing of Chiasson, who taught phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion at Green­field Ele­men­tary School, has left fam­ily, friends and stu­dents, and a cou­ple of gen­er­a­tions of ath­letes, reel­ing.

Life­time friend Ver­non O’Quinn grew up near Chiasson in New Water­ford. Thanks to their love of sports, they de­vel­oped a friend­ship that would con­tinue through adult­hood and in­clude their re­spec­tive fam­i­lies. When Chiasson was hired as the head coach of the Cape Breton Uni- ver­sity Ca­pers men’s soccer team in 2003, he im­me­di­ately called O’Quinn to be the team’s goal­tend­ing coach.

“We grew up a road apart — he was a bit older than me but be­cause of our sports con­nec­tion we be­came great friends, he spent a lot of time at my home grow­ing up and he was the one per­son in my neigh­bour­hood that I idol­ized and tried to be like,” said O’Quinn, who re­mained on the Ca­pers coach­ing staff fol­low­ing Chiasson’s res­ig­na­tion from the pro­gram four years ago.

“Rob­bie and I just spent a lot of time to­gether, he had an in­fec­tious smile and an in­fec­tious per­son­al­ity, you didn’t have to know Rob­bie too long to know that he was a guy you liked and a guy you liked to be around — he’s a win­ner, not just on the sports field, but in life, he had a win­ning at­ti­tude.”

Deano Mor­ley, who played for Chiasson be­fore suc­ceed­ing him as Ca­pers head coach in 2014, said his late friend was one of the good guys.

“He’s had a pro­found im­pact on my life and I feel like I’ve lost a best friend and a brother,” said Mor­ley, who coached the Ca­pers to the 2017 na­tional cham­pi­onship.

“I know I can speak on be­half of many for­mer CBU play­ers in say­ing that he em­pow­ered our lives in such a great way and that many of us wouldn’t be where we are today with­out him and with­out him be­liev­ing in us and giv­ing us an op­por­tu­nity and the be­lief to go on and do things with our lives.”

In fact, when the Ca­pers won the na­tional ti­tle last Novem­ber, Chiasson was the first per­son that O’Quinn and Mor­ley called when their squad cap­tured the cham­pi­onship af­ter a 3-2 shootout vic­tory over the Mon­treal Cara­bins.

“We re­mained in con­stant con­tact — he’s my men­tor and part of my sup­port sys­tem, we’re very proud of what we’ve built here at CBU and he’s the rea­son it was built,” said Mor­ley, an English­man who was re­cruited to the CBU soccer pro­gram by Chiasson.

“He’s been in­stru­men­tal in the growth and de­vel­op­ment of the game of soccer and sports through­out Cape Breton and he’s touched hun­dreds of lives in such a won­der­ful way spread­ing the game.”

John Ryan, CBU’s direc­tor of ath­let­ics and stu­dent life, said Chiasson will be sadly missed.

“First and fore­most, he was a top-notch per­son and a great fa­ther and hus­band who put his fam­ily first,” said Ryan.

“What he did as the soccer coach in our CBU pro­gram was sec­ond to none - Rob­bie had an out­stand­ing in­flu­ence on the game of soccer on Cape Breton Is­land, in our con­fer­ence and across the coun­try.”

Dur­ing his 11 years as CBU head coach, Chiasson guided the Ca­pers to a 64-38-34 over­all record that in­cluded AUS cham­pi­onships in 2007, 2009 and 2012. He was named AUS coach of the year in 2003 and 2006.

When he stepped down from his CBU coach­ing du­ties in 2014, Chiasson told the Cape Breton Post he was do­ing so to spend more qual­ity time with his own fam­ily that in­cluded three young chil­dren.

“To run a suc­cess­ful pro­gram at this level re­quires a huge time com­mit­ment both in and

out of sea­son,” Chiasson said at the time. “My chil­dren are at an age now where they are in­volved in many sports and ac­tiv­i­ties. I have missed many of their soccer games over the years, and as much as I en­joy coach­ing at CBU, I feel my time will be bet­ter spent watch­ing them play from now on.”

On Mon­day, grief coun­sel­lors

were on site at Green­field Ele­men­tary to help both staff and stu­dents deal with the loss of the pop­u­lar and well­re­spected teacher.

“We had some of our grief coun­sel­lors meet with school staff on Sun­day af­ter­noon to pre­pare them for Mon­day,” said Cathy Viva, pro­grams and stu­dent ser­vices direc­tor

with the Cape Breton-Vic­to­ria Re­gional Cen­tre of Ed­u­ca­tion.

“The staff have lost one of their own and we have to make sure they are strong for the stu­dents and ul­ti­mately we want to make sure that the sup­port our stu­dents need is in place.”

Viva said the coun­sel­lors have no time-frame and will

stay at the school un­til their ser­vices are no longer re­quired.

Mean­while, the Cape Breton Re­gional Po­lice Ser­vice has not re­leased any de­tails about the ac­ci­dent other than to con­firm it took place on James Street in New Water­ford around 4 a.m. on Sun­day.

VAUGHAN MER­CHANT/CAPE BRETON UNIVER­SITY

For­mer CBU soccer coach Rob­bie Chiasson is be­ing re­mem­bered as a car­ing fam­ily man and in­flu­en­tial men­tor to the many ath­letes he coached over the years. Chiasson was killed in an ATV ac­ci­dent in New Water­ford on Sun­day.

Mor­ley

O’Quinn

John Ryan

FACEBOOK PHOTO

The Chiasson fam­ily, from left, Rob­bie, sons Conor and Justin, wife Amanda and daugh­ter Catie, are shown in hap­pier times dur­ing a visit to Fortress Louis­bourg.

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