Coach Jay Abbott
The community of student-athletes, coaches, volunteers and families are all deeply saddened by the loss of our fellow coach, mentor and friend Jay Abbott. Coach Jay died January 29, 2015 from injuries he sustained in a crash during a team ride on January 25.
Jay joined the Gear Grinders in 2012, initially in the role of team mechanic and quickly developed an affinity with the high school riders. In 2013 when the team formed a middle school squad, he took on the role of head coach leading a team of seventh and eighth graders. As in all he tackled, he did this with relish and enthusiasm, helping to create a group of young athletes who combined goal-setting with fun and respect for the trails and other users. It’s team legend that Jay could not pass a dog on the trail without giving out a treat: it’s also true that he couldn’t ride by a walker, an equestrian or another rider without a friendly exchange. He was a model trail ambassador for all mountain bikers and a positive role model for the team members.
When he had to remind students of the rules they were expected to follow for safety and courtesy, he would jokingly play his “Captain No-fun” role – an effective strategy that ensured that students got the message in a firm and fair way.
Jay brought his decades of coaching experience from sailing and skiing to the Gear Grinders but much more than that, he brought his patience, integrity, respect and good cheer to the team. He was a tireless worker for the Gear Grinders, often being the first to turn up on race day. He was a regular participant in the team’s trail work parties, helping as recently as January 24 to build a new trail from Baker Hill to Gazzam Lake. Indeed, nothing for the team was too much effort, including single-handedly ensuring that at the season’s end party last May every team member got a framed photograph and some words of encouragement.
Every email message from Jay had a tag-line, “flunking retirement one day at a time.” “Retirement” may be the only thing he ever flunked – he had too much energy and determination to watch his post-work days slip by. For him, there was stuff to do, life to live and he was prepared to get as much out of those days of retirement as he had during his career with Boeing.
The community of cyclists on Bainbridge Island – Jay was a bike commuter when he worked at Boeing, undertook bike-touring adventures and also rode with the Geezers of Fury Sunday riding group - held a tribute to Jay and a memorial was held in the spring of 2015.
Support the Gear Grinders in Memory of Jay with a donation to The Bainbridge Island Mountain Biking Club.