Chad Taber lived his life in the same way that his sons played football.
Like a freight train.
Before he succumbed to cancer on June 30, at the age of 49, Taber was an exceptionally sweet-natured and funny freight train of a guy. He was unwaveringly loyal to Jenks High School and idolized Allan Trimble. Taber was just as loyal to Oklahoma State. He was extremely passionate about the Jenks-Union and Bedlam rivalries.
Having coached his sons’ Jenks White teams for several seasons in the Indian Nation Football Conference, Taber was among the more well-known figures in Tulsa County youth football.
In the death notice published in the Tulsa World, Taber was described as having been an “insurance sales leader” — and he was — but most of his identity centered on his family and his coaching in football and baseball.
He had a million friends, and a great many of those loved ones will convene for Taber’s funeral Mass, scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church in south Tulsa.
Taber is survived by his wife Shea and five children — three daughters and sons Trent and James. Chad and Shea have two grandchildren.
Trent was a youth-football legend — a fearless kid who was five times more physical than most opponents.
As an All-State member of 2012 and 2013 Jenks state championship teams — and as he played most of the 2013 season with a broken wrist — Trent might have been the Trojan program’s best linebacker since Rocky Calmus in 1997.
Today, Trent is preparing for his second season as Jenks’ running backs coach.
James Taber was a Trojan offensive lineman and a senior during the 2018 season.
In 2015-18, first for Trimble and then for Trimble’s head-coaching successor Keith Riggs, Chad Taber was the Trojans’ sideline statistician. Even after his cancer diagnosis, and while undergoing terrible, sickening treatments, Chad missed only one game during those four seasons.
“(Taber) was the epitome of faith, family and football,” Trimble told the Tulsa World. “He was a great husband and a great dad. He has the kids to prove it.
“As far as the Jenks football program (goes), he was a guy you could always trust. He was always willing to serve in any way that he could. I’m going to miss him. The world needs more people like him.”
Joe Cecchini was Chad Taber’s best friend. They met during the summer of 2002, when they agreed to co-coach the Jenks White squad that included their soon-to-be first-grade sons — Trent Taber and Camden Cecchini (who, ultimately, played high school football at Cascia Hall and went on to become a running back for the Coast Guard Academy).
For seven seasons, Chad coached the Jenks White defense and Joe the offense. Their friendship developed immediately and was permanent.
When James Taber became an Indian Nation football athlete, Chad and Joe again were partners in the coaching of the Jenks White squad.
“Anywhere that we could find a patch of grass,” Joe Cecchini says, “we would practice on it. Chad would be serious with the boys, and he was a really good football coach, but he also would do the stupidest things and make them laugh. I’d be like, ‘What? Where did you come up with that?’ He was hilarious.
“Those football seasons — we were together every day. Their family and our family became very close. Chad was my brother. No doubt about it.”
My everyday experience with Chad Taber amounted to only two years — 2008 and 2009, during which he coached our Contenders baseball team. At the ages of 12 and 13, Ty Haisten was the catcher for that team. I loved Chad for having been so good to my boy.
Chad was the perfect coach for that time in Ty’s life, and we had a phenomenal collection of players and families. I miss those seasons and those people.
I would see Chad only occasionally after 2008, but our connection remained as strong as it had been when we were together for about 150 ballgames. He was such a beautiful guy.
I can’t believe Chad is gone from this life, and I can’t wait to see him again.