WILDER'S WHOLE WORLD: Remembering Steve Pasqua

By Dwayne Wilder
Special to the Herald Democrat

The news of Steve Pasqua’s passing hit me hard.

Of course, it is sad to lose someone you know; and sad for the family. He left us too soon and all we have left are the memories. But in Steve’s case – at least for me – it is different: Steve was my son’s first and only coach for the start of his athletic endeavors.

Ryan is almost 22 years old; a college graduate and in the workforce, but back in the fall of 2003, he was a little four-year-old with a smile on his face and a willingness to learn. His start in soccer would lead to baseball and basketball; and a variety of other competitive sports. Ryan famously once said that he ‘played every sport his high school had to offer except one (Golf).’

And it all started on a scaled pitch of a field with a white ball; and Steve Pasqua…

As the father I am, I was not going to leave my four-year-old alone with strangers; people I had never met, so I stayed at practice—not one or a few, but all of them. I didn’t do it for Steve, but in retrospect, I realize I got to see him work with those kids and assess his manner with them as well. Certainly, I learned more about him than if I had just seen him at the games.

I liked what I saw, especially knowing that my young son had a ‘good’ coach. Of course, it wasn’t just with my son; Steve was ‘good’ with all the players. He had this patient, caring manner that permeated everything he did. The team fed off it; and they learned the game of soccer. They learned how to work as a team; and mostly, they learned how to have fun playing the game.

Good youth coaches are tough to come by; good first-coaches are truly rare—you only get to have one.

I can’t count the times I heard Steve laughing and having fun with those kids. In addition, I can’t count the times he stopped play to emphasize a point with a player either. He was pretty near perfect as a coach for children. At first, I thought all youth coaches were like this, but over the years I learned that they are few and far between.

Steve even took it so far as to treat the parents the same way. I was a vocal parent at games; at least that is what I’m told. Steve never told me to ‘cool it’ or any way gave me a reprimand. He pointed out what was happening; and I saw how I was overreacting. (NOTE: I never knew that there was a distinction between ‘Hurt’ and ‘Injured’ until I was part of soccer. Who knew?! Certainly, not me!)

Ryan played with Steve for six years (that is 12 seasons in soccer years). We lost touch with that first coach as he stayed back with the younger kids; and coached his grandson in baseball. I’d see him occasionally; and he’d always ask about Ryan and say what a great player he was during those years. I will never forget those times with the Texoma Soccer Association and a big part of it was Steve Pasqua.

Aside from relatives and maybe a family friend or two, a child’s first coach is the first person who has an impact on that child. The interaction and relationship between father and coach is interesting, too; it involves someone’s child who is not their own. Yeah, it’s complicated! Yet, Steve made it easy; really, without doing anything special. He was just an incredible person who cared about the child and what he was doing. As a parent, you can’t ask for anything more from your child’s coach, especially that first one.

From that first four on four soccer game on that small field to eight on eight on an almost regulation field, Ryan and Coach Steve had fun together; and worked to do something greater than themselves. We still have that first team picture displayed in our house; those four-year-olds are so cute! And right in the middle is Coach Steve, smiling like it was the only place he wanted to be…

…because it was.

Dwayne Wilder

Dwayne Wilder is a Sherman native who currently lives in Denison. Wilder’s Whole World is his commentary about life in Texoma and the world. Wilder can be reached at cmandad17@gmail.com. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.