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Alumni Happenings - October 2006
Grand County High School


Tony Chacon, GCHS Class of 1983,
hopes to build a winning girls varsity basketball team.

by Jeff Richards

Tony Chacon

Tony Chacon, 41, a member of the Grand County High School Class of 1983, says he is looking forward to becoming the new head girls basketball coach for the GCHS Lady Devils.
“I love sports, and I love coaching children,” says Tony. “Some people might think of it as being a stressful job, but for me, it’s actually relaxing. To me, coaching is a hobby. I love it.”

Tony says he’s not the least bit nervous about taking over the new position. “I’ve coached this same group of girls from the time they were on my Junior Jazz team in the 3rd and 4th grade,” he says, referring to his daughter Latoya, now a junior at GCHS, and her classmates. “The girls know me, and I know them. I’m excited,” he adds.

Tony says he and his assistants will start holding and attending informal shoot-arounds this month, and that official practices will start in early November, about six weeks before the start of the preseason schedule.
Tony, who has coached the JV squad and assisted the varsity coach for the past couple of years, now hopes to improve the varsity team, which has posted just 6 wins while suffering 36 losses over the past two seasons.
“I know it’s not going to be easy,” he acknowledges, noting that last year’s starting guard Whitney Keogh recently tore her ACL ligament in her left knee and will miss her entire junior year. But Tony says he’s not about to make excuses.

“We need all the girls on the floor to be able to play any position, and to run, run, run the ball,” he notes. “It’s going to be totally different than you’ve ever seen the Lady Devils play. Defense is going to be the key.”
“Our goal is to make it at least to the second round of the state playoffs this season,” he adds. “We may not win a lot of games our first year, but I at least want us to be competitive.”

After graduating from GCHS in 1983, Tony moved to Phoenix, Ariz., where he enrolled at DeVry University, taking computer and drafting classes.

“It was Coach Glen Richeson who really got me interested in drafting,” recalls Tony. “I really loved his class. He would always tell me, ‘You can accomplish anything you set your mind to.’” Tony also cites chorus teacher Jim Nissen as being a positive influence during his high school years.

Tony suffered a serious neck injury during his freshman year of high school that prevented him from playing football or other contact sports. He did play tennis, however.

Tony Chacon 1983

But nothing can keep Tony and his family away from the bleachers or sidelines these days, as they all enjoy watching just about every type of sports activity. Daughter Latoya plays both soccer and basketball for GCHS, and also participated in track for one year. Son TJ, now a sophomore, played football last year and also plays basketball and runs track. And youngest child Kianna, a 5-year-old kindergartner, is already showing promise as an athlete. Adds Tony with fatherly pride: “She’s already a great basketball player.”

During his four years in Arizona, Tony also worked building custom homes, and also had his own fencing business. In 1987, however, his father Bill was injured in a car accident, so Tony moved back to Moab to help him recuperate. Tony’s younger brother Paul (a 1988 GCHS graduate) was still in high school at the time. The boys’ mother Erma Chacon died of cancer in May 1972, when Tony was 6 and Paul was 1. Bill, who never remarried, was left to raise the two boys on his own.

“My dad has always been a great inspiration to me,” adds Tony, noting that his father and brother still live in Moab.

Tony never went back and finished college, but says he sometimes wishes he had.

Even though his drafting and computer skills helped him out greatly in later jobs, he still wonders if he wasn’t better suited for something else entirely.

“I missed my calling,” he declares somewhat ruefully. “I wish I’d been a schoolteacher.”

For the past 19 and a half years, Tony has worked at Moab Salt, now owned and operated as Intrepid Mining LLC. He currently works as the loadout supervisor, overseeing the outgoing weekly shipments of bulk salt and potash.

Tony first met his wife Celi, a native of Helper and a graduate of Carbon High School, through a friend of a relative.

“We were set up by my aunt, and actually met in Green River for a blind date,” Tony recalls, adding that he and Celi have now been married for 10 years.

“I really wouldn’t be able to do any of the things I do without the tremendous support that I get from my wife,” says Tony. “She writes down stats at the games, and plans team parties, everything else that needs to be done.”

Whether he’s coaching basketball, softball, or soccer, Tony’s continually positive attitude is readily apparent to players, parents, and colleagues alike. “I love working with kids,” he says. “My philosophy is, if I can make a difference in one person’s life, then it’s all worth it.”

The effort you put forth in sports carries into real life,” adds Tony. “I want to see these kids graduate from high school, and go on to college and have a successful life.”

Many of Tony’s former players in various sports are familiar with his oft-repeated mantra: “If you give 110 percent, win or lose, you can go home feeling like a winner.”

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