I lost a hero of mine. The name of this blog is “Do it for them…” and you can look at other posts to see who “them” is to me, but a guy who gave his best for others on countless occasions just passed on and I will miss him greatly as will many others. His obituary states that “Chad fought a long, hard battle with cancer” and passed away on June 30 at the age of 49. He was truly a warrior in so many respects, but I mostly witnessed him battling for kids. It was his own beautiful family that he was committed to – Kendall, Trent, Jordan, James and Clara, along with his wife Shea. They held his heart and his passion. He was at ball games, pom performances, vocal concerts, musicals, competitions, college events – and not just as a spectator or advocate but many times as a volunteer. Chad was a true champion for others.
At his memorial service, the priest gave a great description of Chad saying that he was full of two things – fun and faith. Those are two great words for Chad. I would add to that words I’ve already used like hero, champion, advocate along with servant, cheerleader, and coach. He truly found a way to bring out the best in others, young and old alike, with his energy, his smile, his laugh and his wisdom. Some of my closest association with Chad was as an assistant volunteer youth football coach over a decade ago. Chad was the head coach and my son Carter was blessed to become part of the “Jenks White” family in 5th grade. There are so many involved in youth sports who fit the worst of negative stereotypes but Chad was the best I’ve ever seen.
Chad’s team was a family. Many of the athletes had played for Chad before whether through football or baseball or others were affiliated with him through church. I think I most admired Chad for his ability to keep “the main thing” the main thing. Chad knew sports. He knew how to teach and coach and strategize. I was on several varsity coaching staffs and Chad had as much knowledge about the game (or more) than many guys I’ve worked with and watched in high school athletics across 30 years. But his knowledge about the game and his intense desire to compete (and win) never affected his integrity as a person or his treatment of the young people he served through coaching. Chad loved all his players. That was what was always important to Chad. It was always about the kids and more than once, he had to remind other adults, myself included, that kids weren’t being granted scholarships in 6th grade and we weren’t getting bonuses for league championships or publishing statistics in the newspaper. It didn’t matter if the player was a remarkable athlete or a role player or even someone disinterested in playing all together. Chad showed that he truly cared about them. This care and concern was not limited to his own players but he showed respect, concern and interest in the athletes in programs around us as well. He would often talk to an “opponent” or his family or coach on the way to the parking lot, compliment them on a game well-played and encourage them to keep working hard. You’d often find him leaning against some railing in a gymnasium talking to a family about their kids or talking to athletes about their plans and reassuring them if they were in a slump or feeling discouraged. He didn’t just demonstrate this through athletics and coaching but also involvement in dance, pom and music. He was always around to console or embolden anyone who needed it, even if he was in the midst of his own battle.
This “others first” attitude, humility, boundless encouragement and servant’s heart to me emanated from his faith. I read in the first epistle Paul wrote to the Corinthians in the 13th chapter that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking…it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” I feel like I can substitute Chad’s name for “love” in each of those statements because Chad was patient and kind. I never heard him boast though he certainly could have. He was a protector who demonstrated perseverance, courage and hope beyond measure. He inspires me to be better. He coached me to be better. He modeled being better and serving others. Chad Taber truly did it for “them” – his family, his friends, his players, his community, his school district. I’m a better person for knowing him and I know so many of “them” are too.
Bill Haisten, editor of the Tulsa World, wrote a great reflection on Chad. Here’s a link to it if you haven’t had a chance to read it.
I wish I had words that could adequately pay homage to Chad and his legacy, but I know it will continue to extend to places he will never go because of the humble servant he was. Thanks Chad. You are loved and missed.