Soccer was one of Tariq Fischer's passions. The morning of Nov. 15, 2003, the U-19 Patriots soccer team made one last ran des vogue. The team included Tommy Rosema, Ben Elliot, Steven Lowe, Matt Stokes, Todd Mulder, Bill McConnel, Scott Cernemaro, Nate Mobly, Will Foster, Danny Battaglia, Tariq Fischer, Brian Weinstein, Josh Ramp, Justin Richards, James Wright, Tom Mershon, Todd Robles and Matt Patrick. Popeye's Chicken was the rally point for away games. This was the last game of the season, and it was to be the last game they would ever play together as the '86 Patriots.
Tariq and only seven other players showed. Eight was the minimum number of players required to field a team. Our opponent was division-leading West Gwinnett. They had 16 players. Early in the game, our boys were up 1-0. Although they lost 1-6, they held West Gwinnett scoreless for the last 20 minutes and managed to deliver several shots on goal. There was no hint of quitting.
Tariq was the leader of the defensive. He has clearly been a leader ever since I met him. In 1998, Tariq's character was a driving force that contributed to the finer points of this team. Earlier at Popeye's, I was resigned to call the West Gwinnett coach to forfeit the game. I expected the players and parents to be unanimous that the 2 1/2 hour drive would not be worth being trounced by the division champs - until Tariq spoke up. Tariq said, "Let's go. I don't care. All we need is eight. Let's go!" As usual, he refused to be intimidated. Tariq's infectious resolve spread to the others and within seconds, everyone agreed to go.
Tariq's zeal for life was contagious. Whatever he accomplished was done so with a high degree of excellence. There was a great deal of inertia associated with everything Tariq pursued. He was a natural leader and he positively influenced everyone with whom he came in contact. Just try to find anyone who disagrees.
On behalf of those who played alongside Tariq, and those of us who grew to love Tariq by merely watching him live out life to the fullest: Tariq, thank you for setting the standard for living. We miss you, and we will not forget you.
Coach, 1986 Patriots
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