The Contrarian

I could barely get to sleep most Tuesdays. Wednesdays meant two back-to-back radio news shifts, and endless possibilities. I’d leave Laval at 6 in the morning to make it to class on time.

He was known to most as Coach, and as I learned today, Contrarian by some. With tears welling up in my eyes, I also learnt more about Ross Perigoe from the people who knew him best; his friends, colleagues, sons, and siblings.

Many gathered at Eglinton St. George’s United Church in Toronto to honour the life that was lived by our beloved Coach. Day 1 of JOUR 330: Advanced Radio, the Ph.D. told us we were to call him Coach. I didn’t know how serious he was until I began to roll my ‘R’ in preparation for his name, as he shot a discerning look my way. Immediately “Coach” shot out of my mouth, and it would remain that way for the rest of the time I knew him.

He was Coach, and we were a team. The radio newsroom was the field, and with Coach’s guidance we never struck out. There were times when I may have been close, but Coach would be there with words of encouragement. He believed in us; in all of us, especially when we didn’t believe in ourselves.

When I got an interview for an internship at CBS Radio in New York City, Coach was the first person I called. When it was my turn to wear the Assignment Editor’s hat, I sat by Coach collecting my thoughts, and going over the show’s rundown. It was tax time. Almost in unison, Coach and I looked up and said The Beatles’ Taxman must open the show. And, so it did. It isn’t possible to listen to that song without thinking of him.

I spent last summer in the Rockies as a Podcast Producer for The Banff Centre. My love for radio, and all things audio, grew under the loving care of Coach. His passion and enthusiasm were infectious, and shared by many; myself included. We were similar in a lot of ways. I, too, tend to take the opposing view in discussions, for argument’s sake. We would speak about matters dear to the heart, and how he had a long distance relationship with his wife, as well.

I was very moved, by the way people spoke about Coach; how he affected their lives, and everyone else’s sitting in that church. I thought about how I would be remembered. What impression will I leave? Will my journalism career be as enduring? Will my long-time friend go on about the good old days hosting Sunny Side Up, and our j-school adventures at my wake?

In part, my tear stained cheeks were owed to the fact that tomorrow marks 5 months since the passing of one of my uncles. Like with Coach, I can’t believe he’s gone. He remains a steadfast fixture in my thoughts, and at times in my dreams. A recurrence in these episodes of rapid eye movement, is how he has made it known that he’s okay. I have a hard time believing those I love have passed on. I am going to resign myself to the belief that it is because those we lost don’t ever truly leave us. I will take comfort in that.

I will also take comfort in knowing I could give back to Coach, and that his legacy will live on through the Ross Perigoe Memorial Scholarship.

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