Meet Soccer Coach Richard Gaskin

Coach Richard Gaskin, who coaches the football, wrestling, and boys soccer teams, met one of his idols, the soccer star Pelé, at an All American award ceremony.


Photo courtesy of Richard Gaskin

Coach Richard Gaskin hugs Pelé as he presents the All American award to him in Jan, 1998. The award is either earned by an athletic achievement at a championship event or by being selected by members of the national media, coaches’ association, or through a poll.

Hylay Assefa, Staff Writer

Richard Gaskin, the soccer coach, football coach, and wrestling coach at Rock Ridge, played soccer in college as the goalkeeper of his team, and decided to play professionally for England after college.  He eventually retired after two games because of injuries. “I made a promise to my dad that I would play professionally overseas, and at the time he doubted me,” Gaskin said. “That was my main motivation.”

Junior TJ Desrosiers was coached by Gaskin while playing football and soccer, and Desrosiers’ father and Gaskin went to college together. He felt Gaskin was an inspirational coach who gave his all to his students and made sure to have an impact on them. “He has a very positive impact and attitude on Rock Ridge sports,” Desrosiers said. 

One of Gaskin’s role models in soccer was Brazilian soccer player Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known by his nickname Pelé. Pelé is known as one of the best soccer players of all time. He played for Santos Football Club and the Brazil National Team. His creation of the rainbow, umbrella, and more skill moves are still used and appreciated by players today. After Pelé passed away on Dec. 29, 2022, Gaskin reflected on his meetings and interactions with the soccer star.

Gaskin was an All American in college, and was at the All American award ceremony where Pelé appeared as a guest speaker. Anyone who received an award shook hands with him. Gaskin noticed the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and instead of simply shaking his hand, he hugged Pelé, creating a beautiful moment and photo. “Meeting him was the pinnacle of life for me,” Gaskin said.

Although Gaskin met Pelé and hugged him, Pelé is not his only idol. His all time-favorite is soccer player Zinedine Zidane, who is also considered as one of the greatest of all time. Zidane played for Real Madrid and the French national team. “Zidane was the best player I’ve ever seen; he would dictate the whole field and the whole game would revolve around him, offensively and defensively,” Gaskin said. “They called him the maestro, he was such a playmaker, so finesse, and the guy was a winner.”

Gaskin has taken all of this soccer experience and meeting Pelé to benefit the soccer team at Rock Ridge. His goal for the JV soccer team is to get first in their district, and his goal for varsity is to make it to states, then win. Gaskin is looking forward to the spring season.