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Community spirit of ‘Cahoonaville’ will be missed

To the editor:

When word spread 11 years ago that UMass hockey coach Don “Toot” Cahoon and his family were moving into our neighborhood, we wondered what it would be like to live close to a “celebrity.” We quickly learned that Cahoon is very much a family man and a good friend to the Amherst community, well beyond the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In the early years, I had the opportunity to coach a coed soccer team from kindergarten through third grade with my friend Stacy; our daughters were on the team along with many boys and girls including Cahoon’s grandson, Jay.

Cahoon frequented the games, cheering Jay on and keeping his coaching tips to himself, despite the fact that Stacy and I probably could have used some pointers while the kids were busy picking daisies or running as a pack around the ball.

In the neighborhood, Cahoon was known to hand out UMass jerseys or hockey sticks the team no longer needed. The Cahoons were extremely generous with tickets, always asking neighbors if they wanted to go to a game. Beyond UMass, Cahoon has an excellent reputation as an emcee, participating in annual fundraisers for both St. Brigid’s and Amherst Family Outreach.

Like Terry Francona did with the Red Sox, Cahoon brought UMass its winningest season on record. A group of neighbors even followed him to Rochester in 2007, to watch the team beat Clarkson. I am sure all of the young men who had the benefit and honor of working under Cahoon, not only became better hockey players but also better people.

Now, Cahoonaville is gone and soon Toot and Cindy will move out of Amherst. Cahoon offered his time and wonderful attitude beyond what was expected. We will miss the Cahoons’ kindness, generosity and friendship that they extended to everyone.

Kathy Brennan

Amherst

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