RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)– Community members are remembering a beloved soccer coach and mentor who unexpectedly passed away late last month.
According to his family, 32-year-old Ian Stowe passed away suddenly in his sleep on Monday, April 26. Stowe’s loss is a great loss being felt by many in the soccer community. ‘Stowe strong’ signs can be seen on the soccer fields at Huguenot Park, and a billboard was also made in honor.
Stowe coached and organize youth soccer in Richmond and across the Mid-Atlantic. Stowe’s family said he was the Director of Classic Teams at FC Richmond Youth Soccer Club, was the girls’ varsity soccer head coach at James River High School and was the Olympic Development Players Central District Coach of the Virginia Youth Soccer Association.
Loved ones told 8news, he was much more than a coach, but also touched the lives of those around him.
“I was devastated,” said Trip Dunville, the Assistant Director of the FC Richmond Youth Soccer Club.
After playing soccer at William and Mary during college, Stowe survived a rare form of cancer and re-learned how to walk, swallow and breathe.
Trip Ellis is the Director of the FC Richmond Youth Soccer Club. Ellis told 8news, he met Stowe at Huguenot Park when he was a young child. He also was his coach at one point. Stowe’s father, Scott Stowe, called Ellis to tell him the heartbreaking news.
According to Ellis, Stowe had an extraordinary impact within the soccer club and community.
“He was a staple in the club. He grew up playing for the club. He understood what it took to play at the next level,” he said.
Stowe began playing with the club at age 9. As an eventual coach and mentor, Ellis says, Stowe was always there for his players.
“He was much more than a soccer coach. He was a mentor for life and his players loved him for that,” Ellis said. “He got to know them on a personal level, and they got to know him.”
Becca Finch is a soccer player that plays in the city of Richmond. According to Finch, she has known Stowe for a while through FC Richmond and James River High School soccer.
“While he was never my team’s specific coach, he was always watching our games and cheering us on. When I think of Ian, I always remember him smiling and being supportive on and off the field,” Finch. said. “His legacy will live on through the players he coached and everyone who was touched by his kindness and love for soccer.”
Stowe’s father Scott Stowe believes a Sonny Rollins quote from a New York Times article, perfectly describes his son.
In the article Rollins, a jazz musician, answered the question of whether or not music had an ethical component.
“What I need to know is that being a person who understands that giving is better than getting is the proper way to live,” Rollins said. “Live your life now in a positive way. Help people if you can. Don’t hurt people. That works perfectly for me, man.”
The FC Richmond Youth Soccer Club has been consoling players that have been impacted by Stowe’s death. Many of them have been wearing ‘stowe strong’ wristbands and sporting the number 15.
According to the club, Stowe’s jersey number in college and beyond was 15. The Virginia Youth Soccer Association has also held moments of silence during recent games.
“We’ll wear them as long as we can wear them, as long as it’ll be on my arm in his memory,” said Dunville. “Ian will not only be remembered with our club, but there’s five families who will also remember Ian Stowe.
There is no exact cause of death.
Stowe donated his organs and saved five people through Life Net Health. His family continues to raise awareness for organ donation.