CB Post, David Jala
NEW WATERFORD, N.S. — Robbie Chiasson is being remembered as a caring family man and influential mentor to the many athletes he coached over the years.
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 University 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."
Current Capers Head Coach 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."
The 49-year-old married father of three died early Sunday following an accident in his hometown of New Waterford. He is survived by wife Amanda and children Conor, Catie and Justin.