QUINCY -- As Gary Bass looked around the group gathered for a candlelight vigil to celebrate and remember Chase Waters, the 19-year-old Quincy University football player and student who unexpectedly died last Saturday, he realized how much of an impact the freshman had in a short time on campus.
It was his infectious smile, relentless attitude and good humor that drew everyone in.
So his teammates, coaches, friends and family gathered in Waters' hometown of Fenton, Mo., on Sunday night to mourn, to share memories, to console each other and to say goodbye.
"They laughed and they cried, they laughed and they cried, they laughed and they cried as they shared stories about Chase," said Bass, the QU football head coach who also served as Waters' position coach with the offensive line. "He's going to be missed. That's for sure."
Waters, a three-time all-conference lineman at Fox High School who was a third-team all-state defensive end as a senior in 2018, was expected to challenge for the Hawks' starting job at center this fall. He also was considered a viable option to play guard or tackle because of his athleticism and tenacity.
Listed at 6-foot-2, 245 pounds when he arrived on campus, Waters added about 15 pounds to his frame through weight-lifting and training and was going to be given every opportunity to play.
"It's terrible that he doesn't get that opportunity now," Bass said.
Bass said Waters, who planned to major in special education, was the kind of relentless player who wouldn't have settled for standing on the sideline.
"The dude only knew one speed when he did things and that was a billion miles an hour," Bass said. "You look back at it and he was one of those kids where when he screwed something up you couldn't yell at him because he was playing so darn hard."
Beyond that, Waters had become a fixture in the offensive linemen meetings and upbeat part of a steadily improving program.
"He had this smile that he just lit up a room," Bass said. "His personality was so energetic and was just so much fun to coach. I'm going to miss that."