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‘Moseley magic’ inspired many

By Don Fennell

Published 1:41 PDT, Fri September 10, 2021

Community fondly remembers man who gave much

His enthusiasm was infectious and dedication unwavering. The kind of individual whose mere presence inspired.

While physically slender, Moseley Jack was a giant in the local sports community—particularly in track and field—where he devoted four-plus decades to helping the youth of the Richmond Kajaks realize their potential. That was evident to the end.

A longtime Steveston resident, the retired teacher, counsellor and coach passed away last month at the age of 85—his long life a reflection of the healthy lifestyle he practiced and promoted.

In May, just months after stepping down from his coaching capacity with the Kajaks, Jack returned to the Minoru track his usual energetic self. Accompanied by his grandchildren, he watched intently as the inter-club trials were held.

Cathy Duley, another longtime Kajaks’ volunteer, recounts the moment.

“I was volunteering with Byron (Jack’s son, and the Kajaks’ longtime jumps coach) at the long jump event. Moseley chatted with us all but, as always, his focus was on his former athletes,” Duley explained. “He commented on how tall each of them was getting since they were with him in junior development and, of course, gave some coaching advice. One of the girls proceeded to perform a phenomenal jump that was a personal best for her. I later heard her say, “See, all I needed was some Moseley magic.”

Duley says that brief but poignant interaction “nailed the essence of Moseley.”

“With each of the thousands of kids he coached over 41 years with the Kajaks, he passed on his magic or influence to each of them,” she says. “Whether they were an eight-year-old that was just starting out or a 13-year-old provincial champion, he treated each athlete equally and encouraged and guided them to perform to the best of their ability.”

Duley’s son Logan was one of those athletes from 2015 to 2018, when he was part of the sprints and jumps group. Jack always took the time to keep Logan calm and arm him with the confidence needed to tackle any obstacle and, with Jack’s guidance, Logan was able to reach the podium on a regular basis at local and provincial track meets. Jack’s coaching and encouragement also helped Logan become a gold medallist several times over with the 2005 boys’ four-by-100-metre relay team, including at the prestigious Harry Jerome Track Classic and twice at the BC Athletics Junior Development Championships.

Jack’s attention to detail in training, teaching the boys the proper exchange zones as well as flawless baton passing technique, have ensured that to this day the boys have never been disqualified.

Jack was immensely proud of the success his athletes achieved, and he always made sure to praise them publicly.

“One of Logan’s most cherished moments as a Kajak was receiving the Moseley Jack Jumps Award at the club’s annual banquet in 2017,” his mom said. “Logan was also very proud of his coach and present at the ceremony to see Moseley inducted in the Richmond Sports Wall of Fame in 2018.”

Lanie Man, another longtime Kajaks’ volunteer, last spoke to Jack over the phone on Aug. 3. She had dropped off a photo book to him earlier that day, a compilation of messages and pictures from Kajaks families. It was a retirement gift, since the club was unable to celebrate his retirement because of COVID-19.

“He phoned me with his loud, cheerful voice, no hint of being ill,” Man said. “He thanked me for the book and the effort that went into it. At the end of the conversation he said, ‘I’ll see you at the track.’”

Jack’s presence, Man said, will always be felt whenever we see athletes on the track.

“His teaching is his legacy—how he instilled the proper technique, and how his strict but caring nature of coaching…engrained life skills,” Man said.

Bob Riddell, another longtime friend and colleague of Jack’s, described him as an “upper gentleman.”

“I really admired his patience when coaching or officiating. He did not know how to get flustered,” Riddell said. “Generations of kids and young athletes learned how to be patient and focused because of him. The way he could watch the athletes and figure out the things that they could do to improve, I call it having a positively critical eye. It’s something all really good coaches have.”

Legendary masters athlete Avril Douglas, who joined the Kajaks in 1987, long admired Jack’s coaching style and tries to emulate that with the youngsters she coaches who are just learning the basics of running, jumping and throwing through the Track Rascals program.

“He was guided by the basic running techniques and consistently (had) a no-nonsense approach,” Douglas said. 

A natural athlete, Jack learned to run in his native Trinidad but it was the opportunity to learn that perhaps inspired him most. Good fortune earned him the opportunity to extend his studies past Grade 7 in Trinidad, and later to enroll in post-secondary studies in B.C. that led to a teaching career. But it was his relentless support of his children and their sporting ventures that led him to coach his son Byron’s youth soccer team, and ultimately to the forging of a 41-year relationship with the Kajaks when Byron took up track and field.

Along with Ken Johns, Jack taught Olympic bronze medal race walker Evan Dunfee how to run. But most fondly Dunfee will remember Jack when he started coaching alongside him.

“He was such an inspiring role model. For thousands of kids, Moseley was the first person aside from their parents from whom they learned the power of hard work and dedication. I think that’s a pretty special legacy.”

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