Former White Rock Tritons and North Delta Blue Jays pitcher Jonathan Côté was a fearless competitor and a great teammate, according to one of his former coaches.
Côté – who turned 22 years old three weeks ago – passed away Tuesday morning after a battle with cancer. News of his passing quickly spread throughout the BC Premier Baseball League community, and the Blue Jays announced the news online Wednesday.
It is with very heavy hearts that we share with you the loss of North Delta Blue Jays alumni Jonathan Cote. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jonathan's family pic.twitter.com/IwlFsitmHh
— North Delta BlueJays (@NDBlueJays) May 30, 2018
Mike Hughes, the head coach of the White Rock Tritons, was an assistant coach with the Blue Jays during Côté’s time there, and remembered the pitcher as a battler, who wanted to be on the mound, with ball in his hand, at every opportunity.
“No matter what – no questions asked – he wanted the ball,” Hughes said. “He was a great teammate, just a really great kid.
“In coaching, you get pretty close to these kids – you’re with them 30 hours a week during the season, and they become like your own kids… when something like this happens to someone so young, it just shows you that there’s bigger things out there than baseball.”
Hughes noted Côté beat cancer once, and even returned to the ball diamond for one season – he played at Otero Junior College in Colorado after graduating from the BCPBL, and also spent time at Colorado Mesa University. In 2016, however, he was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a form of brain cancer that is extremely rare in adults.
On Twitter, his former Colorado teammate Cameron Johnson wrote that “Heaven gained another perfect soul this morning.”
Jonathan Côté, my friend, my brother, you always seemed to put smiles of the faces of others, especially mine,” he continued. “Although I’m heartbroken, I know you’re in a better place. Until I see you, fly high Canada.”
Heaven gained another perfect soul this morning. Jonathan Coté, my friend, my brother, you always seemed to put smiles on the faces of others, especially mine. Although I’m heart broken, l know you’re in a better place. Until I see you, fly high Canada 🇨🇦 ⚾️ #strikeoutcancer
— Cameron Johnson (@camjohnson5) May 29, 2018
After one PBL season with the White Rock Tritons, Côté moved to play in his hometown with the Jays, and in his senior season set a record that Hughes doubts will be broken anytime soon – he was the first pitcher to lead the league in both strikeouts and walks.
“I used to call him effectively wild,” Hughes remembered.
“He played baseball like he lived his life – he was fearless.”
On Sunday at South Surrey Athletic Park, before a planned doubleheader against the Victoria Mariners, Hughes’ Tritons will honour Côté’s memory with a moment of silence. The Mariners are no strangers to tragedy themselves, Hughes pointed out – two years ago, a Mariners player, Zack Downey, also passed away after a battle with cancer.