LYNN — When it comes to coaching football, Rasi Chau has no shortage of experience on his resume. Chau, a Lynn native and former player at Classical, has coached for 19 years at the Pop Warner, high school, arena, semi-professional, and women’s league levels. Add in his true passion for the sport and Chau becomes the perfect candidate to direct the football program at Chelsea High School, a role he took over in May.
“I was ecstatic,” Chau, 37, said of his reaction when he learned he was named the new head coach of the Red Devils. “I felt like I hit the jackpot. It doesn’t matter where I was named to be the head coach. It’s something I’ve been chasing. I inherit a program at Chelsea that we can build as a winning program.”
In his playing days, Chau was a fullback/linebacker at Classical. He intended to play Division III college football at Mount Ida but changes in the program’s coaching staff forced Chau to alter his plans. Chau transferred to UMass Boston but the school folded it’s football program shortly after.
Since then, Chau has found himself closely involved with football through coaching.
“Football’s my passion,” Chau, who currently resides in Lynn, said. “You have to have a passion for football. If you don’t have it, football’s not for you. Some coaches coach just to coach or they do it for a paycheck. I love it, it’s my passion.”
Chau credited the late Harry Prunier, who died last week, for steering him in the direction of coaching.
“If it wasn’t for him (Prunier) I wouldn’t be where I am today as a football coach,” Chau said. “I owe him a big thanks for where I am today. He changed a lot of at-risk youth in the city.”
Chau began coaching at the high school level in 2003 with St. Mary’s, where he served as an assistant on former Spartans coach Mike Stellato’s staff. Chau helped coach the Spartans to a state championship in 2005. Chau has also coached as an assistant at Lynn Tech under James Runner, a former teammate of his at Classical.
Most recently, Chau was an assistant coach for a Boston Renegades team that won the Women’s Football Alliance Division 1 championship in July.
Chau inherits a Chelsea team that finished 2-8 this season but has plenty of familiarity with the program. He was Chelsea’s defensive coordinator last fall and held a separate stint as a Red Devils assistant coach prior to that.
“Last year was my second time at Chelsea,” Chau said. “I noticed they needed more guidance and coaches needed to be more involved. When I got the job in May I told my coaches ‘I want to show the players that coaches are here and they care.’ I’m not saying the previous coaches didn’t care but I want our coaches to be involved with our students in and outside the classroom. All coaches care, you just have to be a step ahead and show the kids you believe in them.”
Chelsea projects to field a young roster this fall. The Red Devils return just two seniors with varsity experience from last season’s team.
“We’re young and inexperienced but I truly believe in my guys,” Chau said. “They’ve been showing up to offseason workouts. We’ve played 7v7 versus Classical every Wednesday. You can learn from a higher, more competitive team. You can apply that experience to your opponents. We have guys working out four days a week.
“It’s going to be a tight (Commonwealth Athletic) conference,” Chau said. “With us having offseason workouts, the players are applying themselves to our system. You have to be there, you have to earn it. We’re a younger team. We have seven seniors this year but only two of them have varsity experience. I’m looking forward to a big challenge in the conference.”
With Tech and Chelsea both in the CAC, Chau has October 19’s clash between the Tigers and Red Devils circled on his calendar. Coaching against a former teammate in Runner is an opportunity Chau’s excited for.
“It’s going to be a great experience,” Chau said. “We’ve played together since Pop Warner and at Classical. I love it. I’ll try to be ahead of him and be more competitive. It’s going to be exciting and a great experience coaching against him.”