By: Alexa Camerino
This month the Caldwell-West Caldwell community lost an icon. Mark Teshkoyan was a well respected, cherished teacher and coach. He was admired by students and athletes alike, which was evident in the way our community banded together to honor him.
Mark Teshkoyan is the epitome of “Once a Chief, Always a Chief” as a lifelong resident of the Caldwells, himself an alumni of JCHS, class of 1978. He returned to his alma mater as a teacher of industrial arts and coach of girls soccer and softball for more than 30 years.
Rachel McNamara, a JCHS alumni and recent colleague of Coach Mark, was deeply saddened to hear of his decline in health, and knew she had to do something to express the impact he had on this community. With little time, and Covid-19 safety constraints, Ms. McNamara organized a large-scale, touching tribute to Coach Mark by reaching out to current and past students, current and past athletes, parents, colleagues, and friends.
She explained, “My mom and I got together, along with Lisa Lucia-Hayden and Detective Mazzeo, worked to organize the drive-by for Coach Mark. We knew it would be big, but it was truly emotional seeing that big of a turn out. He was an incredible man with a beautiful heart. Coach Mark and his family deserved to know just how many lives he has touched. He made such an impact on this entire community and beyond. That was exemplified by how many people came out to show their support and thank Coach Mark for all he has done for them over the years. There was so much love that day and it was touching to see the entire community come together. He believed in his students and his athletes. The memories we have all created with him over the years will forever be in our hearts.”
Although it is extremely upsetting that Coach Mark is no longer with us, his life was celebrated by generations of Chiefs showing the love, admiration and respect he earned throughout his life.
Coach Mark lived a happy and fulfilling life, touching so many with his positive attitude and unwavering support, that he will never be forgotten. Having been coached by him for 3 seasons, I can personally attest to his kindness, caring, and true compassion for his students and athletes. Regardless of his health challenges, Coach Mark was a constant beam of light on the sideline of our games. I will forever remember him sitting on a bucket, singing happily, explaining to our team that the music of our generation was, well, not up to his standards. To be honest, I learned to appreciate country music, as well as countless other lessons, from him.
While perched on his bucket and singing, Coach Mark photographed our team throughout the season. He then painstakingly created a scrapbook and gave one to every player. Not only did he include commentary on every game, but he highlighted each player, regardless of the amount of playing time she received. In addition to scrapbooks, he designed shirts and gave them to the team at the end of each season.
The fact that he was loved by many and everyone is very grateful we were able to show him our love on his last day.
Coach Mark was always there to support us, and this time it was our turn to support him. On January 10, hours before he left us, the Caldwell-West Caldwell community turned out in droves to express our love and respect. Hundreds of people participated in the drive by in a display of gratitude for this incredible man. We were able to support his family in the way he supported us for decades.