Chris Chick was more than just an offensive line coach for the Chandler Wolves. He was a beloved friend and mentor to all that came into contact with him over the course of his career.
Chandler head football coach Rick Garretson said Chick had been dealing with some health-related issues that stemmed from last football season. But in the last month he had started to struggle. Garretson spoke with Chick Wednesday night, who said he wasn’t feeling well. Thursday morning, Chick’s father told Garretson he had passed away.
He was 42 years old.
“When you get that type of news, it’s obviously knee-dropping,” Garretson said. “It’s a sad situation. He’s a really loved guy in our program but he’s really well-loved in the Arizona high school football community, too.”
Chick graduated from Saguaro High School in 1998, where he received all-city and all-state honors as a senior. As a junior, he helped lead the Sabercats to the 1995 state football and basketball championships. He went on to play at Mesa Community College before transferring to Cal-Berkeley to continue his career.
He returned to the Valley after college and began coaching at Saguaro in 2006. He served as the strength and conditioning coach and run-game coordinator for the Sabercats until 2011, winning five state titles during that six-year span.
Chick joined Chandler’s coaching staff as the strength and conditioning coach and run-game coordinator in 2012 under then-head coach Shaun Aguano. Over the course of his nine seasons with the Wolves, he helped lead them to six state titles – five of which in the last five years.
Aguano, who is now the running backs coach at Arizona State, said on Twitter Chandler wouldn’t have won championships if it weren’t for Chick. Garretson agreed.
“He is the best in-game run coordinator I have ever been around,” Garretson said. “He’s a guy who really knows how to dissect a run-game while in a game, which isn’t easy to do. Shaun’s comments were spot on. We don’t win those championships without Chick. He was a big part of those six titles.”
Chick’s legacy will undoubtedly involve more than just his accolades on the football field as both a player and coach. He went out of his way to make everyone – including members of the media – feel welcome. A simple, ‘hello,’ would often turn into a long, heartfelt conversation about whatever was on his mind that day.
Often times, he would gush over the improvement of one of his players or the offensive line as a whole. Or he would rave about one of Chandler’s skill players or defensive linemen they had trouble blocking in practice. But there were times, however, where he simply wanted to learn more about whoever he was speaking to.
He always took the time to get to know those he came into contact with on a personal level, which is one of the main reasons he was beloved by his players, coaches, parents and even at times, opponents.
“I’m so heartbroken to hear of your passing,” Saguaro defensive line coach Kyle Caldwell wrote. Caldwell coached the Sabercats alongside Chick. The two grew close during their time together.
“So many great memories together. Such an impact you made when it came to the things you were passionate about,” he added. “Thank you for always being on the other end of a conversation even if it seemed like it would never end. Love you brother.”
Garretson informed the players of Chick’s passing on Thursday. As expected, the news wasn’t taken lightly.
Several current and former Chandler players have since taken to social media reflect on Chick’s unexpected death. Tevai Neher, who played his last season on the Chandler offensive line under Chick in 2020, recalled some of the long phone conversations he and his coach would have.
“We spent hours on the phone talking about schemes, technique, (and) how we can better ourselves as a team,” Neher said. “No one will understand how much you did for us. RIP to THE greatest (offensive line) coach in AZ.”
Kyion Grayes, a soon-to-be senior for the Wolves, thanked Chick for all he had done for the team.
“This one hurt,” Grayes said. “Rest easy coach Chick you will be missed thank you for everything.”
Garretson said he and the rest of the Chandler football community will mourn the loss of Chick together and move forward with his legacy forever on their minds and in their hearts.
“He will be missed, there’s no question,” Garretson said. “Our hearts are broken, and we are going to support each other as a community and try to move ourselves forward."
According to Garretson, the celebration of life for Chick will take place Thursday, June 17 at 6 p.m. at the Desert Ridge Marriott Resort in Phoenix.