I got to know Jason well a few years ago when I coached Aaron on several football and basketball teams. We also had the pleasure of coaching together, along with Joe Bramuchi, the legendary 2010 Delaney Park Little League Rookie Red Sox team – leading them in an undefeated campaign that year. Seeing as how we both were Gators and had been at UF in roughly the same date range (I was leaving when he was arriving) and that we both enjoyed sarcastic, smart ass humor we hit it off quickly.
Jason loved football season so we were always talking about Gator/College Football, Gator Hoops, fatherhood and some of the absurdities of life. More than anything though - that guy made me laugh!
We both always got a juvenile chuckle when walking into the JCC in Maitland for a hoops game and seeing the bagel place in the lobby. (I think of Jason every time I go there now.) We enjoyed laughing at people who drank Mic Ultra with a straw (Bramuchi) and overzealous FSU fans (Barati). Jason got Dave Morrissey to help me coach basketball and soon we had organized a monthly "Coaches Meeting" (Beaird/Tyndall/Bramuchi/Morrissey) at a local watering hole to discuss our list of talking points - all things kids, sports, college football - and basically harass each other for various transgressions. (Related to the "Coaches Meetings" - Check out the One on the Bar pint glasses available on the Golf Website)
There was always a reason he/I could dig at one another. One time he found particular joy in bashing me over an oversized hat I had purchased to keep my face out of the sun during outdoor practices. His favorites happened when the team I was coaching lost. I never heard the end of those. We bombarded each other via email and text. The harassment even occurred in drive by form as my house was on the path for his return for work. I would try to hit him with tennis balls certain days I knew he was coming and if I didn’t he would honk loudly and repeatedly as he drove by and/or pull in the driveway and honk until attacked.
While writing this I searched my email for “hgvc.com” (Jason’s email address) and read a few things that still are making me laugh. Various emails nominating me as “coach of the year” with a sarcastic list of why I should win:
"When are nominations due for slacker "Coach of the Year" award? I think Tyndall is a lock. Anyone can continually blow off practice (as he is once again doing tonight), but Mat has taken it to another level this season by missing multiple games. Although the Slacker Selection Committee prefers that hunting trips or company-paid boondoggles are the reasons that coaches miss games, Mat is still coming on strong with excuses like "Jacko's other hoops team, that I don't even coach, had a game at the same time." I think the Slacker Selection Committee will take notice of this extraordinary lack of commitment to the kids."
Once, I was coaching Aaron on a hoops team in winter 2013 and we had not won a game. Our team got off to a quick 4-0 lead in the final game only to lose and go 0-8 for the season. When I got in the car to drive home and turned on my phone I received a text from Jason. He had taken a picture of the scoreboard at the beginning of the game when we were winning “4-0” and sent it to me saying “we hadn’t ever been in the lead this year so I thought you might want to save this”! I still have this pic and it still makes me laugh.
There’s a lot to write about when it comes to Jason. I don’t need to tell anyone reading this how funny he was or what a good father or person he was. I would be preaching to the choir. He once told me after I knew he had an illness that it had made him take things like work less seriously and find more time for the little things in life. He still seemed to work pretty hard to me but he also was always available to his friends and family at a moment’s notice. It's hard to believe he is gone. Out of habit I still can't help but glance hard every time I see a Silver 4runner SUV go down my street.