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Richmond Kajaks' "legend" calls it a career after 41 years

Moseley Jack got into athletics coaching in 1980 by accident

Some time in 1980, Moseley Jack turned up a Richmond elementary school track meet with his son and daughter, as he had done countless times before.

Jack, a school teacher at the time, had zero experience as an athletics coach and had absolutely no intention of taking up a coaching role at the local Kajaks club.

But later that same day, a blunt conversation with the club's head coach at the time led to Jack - an immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago in 1959 - spending the next 41 years honing the skills of the club's younger athletes and earning himself the tag as a Kajaks' legend in the process.

"I was sort of dragged into it, to an extent," laughed Moseley, now 84, who recently announced his retirement from coaching.

"The head coach said, 'you're here with your kids, you might as well help us while you're here, we need coaches.' I said, 'sure, I'll give it a try.'

"I started right there and then as the long distance coach. I had no experience, except running from the police.

"I came from Trinidad and Tobago; we were not that advanced; there were no tracks there. I do remember someone doing the pole vault with a long piece of bamboo and landing on the ground on their bare feet.

"We just played cricket and soccer, I knew very little about track and field."

Jack first came to Canada, age 23, to study at UBC, initially with designs on becoming a doctor, before ending up in teaching, which eventually took him east to Kamloops.

But it was a call from the Richmond School Board about a job that brought him back to the area and ultimately to the Kajaks.

"Everything I learned about coaching athletics, I learned it through the Kajaks or from national coaches," added Jack, a 2018 Richmond Wall of Fame inductee.

"I went through all the coaching levels. I coached basketball at school as well, after someone showed me how the game works; that was another sport I knew very little about."

Kajaks' head coach, Garret Collier, said it was "almost impossible" to measure how much of an impact Jack has had at the club over those four decades.

"During his time at Kajaks, with the junior development program, he's touched the careers, at some point, of athletes who went onto national or Olympic levels," Collier told the Richmond News.

"He always really cared and he took coaching beyond the basics. He wanted to teach the valuable lessons and we're going to miss his smile and laugh around the track.

"Every time Moseley was there, he got everyone fired up and excited. He's a world-class coach by every definition and it has been a blessing to have him here.

"We're all going to miss him but hopefully we will see him around. I know, as a coach, it's hard to stay away."

Explaining why he lasted so long in his coaching role, Jack said his children's love of athletics and their consequent love of coaching kept him coming back.

But when his kids moved onto with their adult lives, Jack said it was simply his love of coaching children that kept the fire burning his belly.

"I enjoyed watching the kids progress, especially the nine to 13-year-olds," said Jack, whose primary function at Kajaks was to mentor the younger age groups.

"My wife passed way in 2008 and it gave me something to do. It gave me reason to be out in the community."

Jack said the thing he will miss the most is taking a close in hand in the young athletes' development.

"It's a great sport and a great community. And the club has been very good to me and my family.

"After the pandemic, I will still be out there watching and, if my health holds, I will still volunteer in some way with the track meets."