A memorial tribute was held last weekend for former Satellite High head football coach Fred Chase, who passed away Labor Day weekend in Norfolk, Va.
A holiday boating weekend turned tragic for Chase, who drowned after rescuing a fellow boater who was having difficulty with a vicious undertow. After saving the life of someone else, Chase succumbed to the same rough waters. He was 71 years old.
An extremely talented athlete and unselfish individual who would provide aid and comfort to both a friend and stranger, Chase recently celebrated his 50th football reunion for Purdue, where he excelled as a center/guard for the 1963 Boilermakers.
He established his legacy on the Space Coast in the mid-1970s, when he assumed the head coaching position at Satellite and quickly transformed a moribund program into one of the elite in the former Cape Coast Conference.
Inheriting a team that went 1-9 in 1973, Chase steadily improved the Scorpions from 5-5 in his first season, 1974, to a playoff-contending 8-2 in 1977.
Leading Chase’s 1977 team was current Brevard County Commissioner Robin Fisher, who later played nose guard for Florida. He led the Gators in tackles in 1979 and is among their top 10 all-time sack leaders.
“I received an award from Junior Achievement a few months back and I told them that, besides my parents, Fred was the most influential person in my life,” Fisher said.
Chase finished his coaching career at Stuart-Martin County before moving on to other vocations: school fund-raising and later opening a series of restaurants in Norfolk. He eventually sold his businesses and returned to the Space Coast to restore boats and rekindle relationships.
Friends and family met Sept. 14 on the Intracoastal Waterway to celebrate his life and spread his ashes.
A veritable “Who’s Who” of former Space Coast coaches, Bob Comparato, Bill Bartlett, Mark Hedgecock and Joe Horschel, and players such as defensive standouts Fisher and Craig Kraus, participated along with family members in a moving tribute on the waters Chase enjoyed so much.
“Fred would often come up to me after practice and tell me ‘Remember, your job in life is to bring people up, not to tear them down,’ ” Fisher said. “And I’ve never forgotten that.”
Chase is survived by his daughter, Kimberly, of Clermont; son, Brian, of Los Angeles; and one grandson, Corey.