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BRATTLEBORO — On May 7, 2013, varsity softball players in purple and white uniforms decided to mix in a little bit of yellow.

They were supporting assistant coach and team photographer Jeff Rawson, who was about to begin chemotherapy for bone cancer.

The Colonels wore yellow ribbons in their hair for that home game against Fair Haven. They had the initials “J.R.” written on their cleats. “We love you Jeff” could be seen in black ink in front of the team’s bench.

Rawson, formerly of Vernon, died on Nov. 22 with his family members by his side.

“We truly had some great times coaching. Jeff was one of a kind. He was not only an assistant coach, but he became one of my very good friends,” said Brattleboro Union High School head softball coach Kelly Markol. “I feel so fortunate that I coached Jeff’s daughter Cassie, and got to know his wife Terry. They are wonderful people and my heart breaks for them.”

Rawson became an assistant coach in 2008 and was part of three state championship teams. He was with the program until he moved to Massachusetts in 2017.

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“Jeff was always taking great pictures at games. He would put all the pictures out so that the kids could view them and learn from them. But he was far more than just a photographer for the team, he was an amazing coach and everybody loved him,” Markol explained. “He was “the team dad” because of his kind heart and warm soul. He had a way of making kids believe in themselves, and the kids trusted him. They knew that if they needed some advice or someone to talk to, Jeff was there. Not only did the kids love Jeff, but we as coaches all loved him.”

Eight years ago, BUHS pitcher Kayla Wood promised Rawson that the Colonels would get to the Division 1 finals. She would then shut out all four opponents during the postseason, including 20 strikeouts and a perfect game in a 1-0 victory over Missisquoi Valley for all the marbles.

“Boy, did they ever deliver. I am very humbled and blessed by the love and support this team continues to bestow upon me and my family,” said Rawson, who had his chemotherapy appointment postponed so that he could attend that 2013 title tilt.

Al Wood and Markol were the other coaches that season. The BUHS players were Kayla Wood, Mckinlie Carpenter, Bailey Paige, Daisy Giroux, Rissa Smith, Haley Struthers, Lou Lou Terwilliger, Alyssa Bezanson, Alex Derosia, Casey Manning, Jess Mann, Samantha Harrison, Jess Ogden, Morgan Derosia, and Maddy Derosia, who scored the game-winning run in the finale.

“Jeff always had a smile on his face, throughout all his treatments he never let you know the pain that he may have been in that day. He never missed practice. He loved being at the field as much as all the players and coaches loved having him there,” Markol stated.

Rawson, who often posted photos on Facebook of his dogs or of himself eating ice cream, surprised the team by showing up for Senior Night last spring.

Shane Covey can be reached at scovey@reformer.com or

802-254-2311 X163. On Twitter: @ShaneCovey.