USA TODAY Sports columnist Chris Chase passed away this morning. He was 37.
A longtime Maryland resident, Chase was a swim coach at his alma mater Winston Churchill High School and a school teacher before beginning his career in journalism. He covered the 2008 Summer Olympics for Yahoo!, providing an unrivaled blend of analysis and wit that would become a trademark in his writing for the next decade.
Chase was a founding member of For The Win, where he was responsible for approximately half the lists ever written on the site. There were few topics Chase would back down from, and his encyclopedic knowledge became indispensable to his colleagues.
A commenter once described him as "the Nickelback of sports writers," which isn't really fair to Nickelback, who to my knowledge has never once questioned the age of Chinese gymnasts in print during the Olympics.
While readers may have gotten a visceral reaction to some of his words, fellow writers and editors admired him deeply for his tireless work ethic, his fearlessness in making an argument, and the care he showed to his co-workers.
He could be acerbic on the page, but there were few people more loving in person. He was happy to toss off an angry reader with a caustic remark, but he was a man who loved his wife, daughter, family, and friends fiercely.
Chris's greatest passion was his daughter, Anna, who inherited his love of Bob Dylan, the Redskins, and Roger Federer, along with his ever-mischievous smile. Often, when editing stories or brainstorming ideas, Anna could be heard in the background offering her bubbly opinion. I've long suspected some of Chase's hottest takes actually came from Anna.
Chase's Redskins fandom was unwavering. To be clear, he loved all D.C. sports but the Redskins held a special place in his heart, which brimmed with an annual sense of optimism and wonder in September, an uneasy dread in October, pure rage in November, and peaceful resignation by Christmas.
At least the Caps finally got one.
When he wasn't bemoaning the fate of his teams or doting on his wife and daughter, Chase was likely listening to a Dylan record or explaining why Die Hard 2 was actually better than the original Die Hard. In one of his finest performances, Chase ranked 359 Bob Dylan songs from best-to-worst in 2015. It's feels fitting to let Dylan have the final thought on our dear friend and colleague, so I will quote the opening lines from Mississippi, the song at the top of Chase's list:
"Every step of the way we walk the line
Your days are numbered, so are mine
Time is pilin' up, we struggle and we scrape
We're all boxed in, nowhere to escape
City's just a jungle, more games to play
Trapped in the heart of it, trying to get away
I was raised in the country, I been workin' in the town
I been in trouble ever since I set my suitcase down
Got nothing for you, I had nothing before
Don't even have anything for myself anymore
Sky full of fire, pain pourin' down
Nothing you can sell me, I'll see you around"
He is survived by his wife, Alison, daughter Anna, and his mother Ionna, father Peter, and sister Stephanie Beaulieu.
A Go Fund Me has been established for his family: https://www.gofundme.com/in-memory-of-chris-chase
Former For The Win editors Chris Strauss and Nate Scott contributed.
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