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Author Topic: First & 10 | Remembering Shawn Coates  (Read 185 times)
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« on: February 28, 2021, 04:00:24 PM »

First & 10 | Remembering Shawn Coates - Ed Tait

Just about everyone who came into the orbit of Shawn Coates has a story to tell about the late Winnipeg sports figure who served as the Blue Bombers Director of Media Relations for a spell at the start of the millennium.

Invariably they are stories that make you laugh because he had that kind of larger-than-life personality. He was hilarious and he was engaging. He was exceptionally talented as a broadcaster, a photographer and a writer.

Most of all, he had that ability to truly listen to people. He cared and he was selfless and giving of his time. And when he passed away suddenly in 2015 at the age of 52, it brought so many that had known him to tears.

We bring all this up today because long-time Blue Bombers fan Bob Thomson has found a way to remember Coates - 'Coatesy' to those who knew him - with a memorial plaque kindly put together by Joe Daley's Sports & Framing that we hope to find a prominent spot for at IG Field, either in the press box or the media room.

The plaque features a photo of Coates, includes the years he worked for the Bombers and with the Canadian Football League as Director of Football Operations, and features this wonderful quote from hall of famer and Winnipeg sports icon Milt Stegall:

'Lots of people think it's nice to be important, Shawn knew it was important to be nice.'

Thomson, 64 and now retired after more than three decades as a teacher, first approached the club in 2019 with the idea of honouring Coates in some manner. A few concepts were tossed about and, ultimately, we settled on the memorial plaque. Thomson wanted to pay for the memorial with some of the money he won in the CFL's 'Predict the Pick' contest prior to the 2019 CFL Draft, where he successfully nailed where six of the first eight players were selected.

Joe and Travis Daley, it's worth noting, made the memorial but didn't take a dime.

"I always wanted to do something for him because he was an important guy in this city," said Thomson in a chat with bluebombers.com this week. "He always made you feel like you were the most important person in the world when you were with him and he was just so comfortable to talk to... you could talk to him about anything. And he was funny. Man, he was funny. Most people that knew him thought he should have been a stand-up comic because he was just so at-ease around others.

"Coatesy was one of those guys that when you met him, you connected with him right away. He was always helping people, even if he didn't know them. You'd hear all these stories about the people who crossed paths with them and how he helped them."

Thomson first came to know Coates when the latter was calling high school and university volleyball games on the old Videon channel. The two became close friends when Coates took a job as an information officer with the Winnipeg School Division #1. Later, when he landed his gig with the Blue Bombers, Coates gave his own season tickets to Thomson so that he could enjoy the games with his wife Joan and four sons - Caelan, Riley and twins Quinn and Brody, both of whom have severe autism.

"He became like a brother to me," said Thomson of Coates. "When he died it was unbelievable. It was crushing. I didn't find out about it until I saw the obituary in the paper on the Saturday morning.

"I always thought that Shawn needed to be remembered. Memories can fade a little bit, but this guy meant more to a lot of people and I know that he gave his heart and soul to the Bombers. I just wanted something of remembrance, whether it was a scholarship or something on the wall... something with his name attached to it and I'm so glad we were able to come up with this as a tribute to him."

More notes and quotes in our weekly collection we call '1st & 10'...

And there's more here to read.........
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"You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one." - John Wooden
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