VIDEO: ‘Pop’ LaRoche Guiding Light For USSSA

By  //  May 12, 2014

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ABOVE VIDEO: Charles LaRoche passed away in 2010, but his enthusiasm lives on in the events of the United States Special Sports Association (USSSA), the world’s largest multi-sport athletic organization with more than 3.7 million participants competing in 13 sanctioned sports.

CHARLIE LaROCHE – 2014 INDUCTEE

Charlie LaRoche

Charlie LaRoche

• Member of USSSA Hall of Fame

• USSSA National Director

• TDC Portrait of Excellence Award

Friends called him Charlie. Family called him Pop, but friends were also family to Charlie LaRoche, so most folks knew him as Pop LaRoche.

Charles LaRoche passed away in 2010, but his enthusiasm lives on in the events of the United States Special Sports Association (USSSA), the world’s largest multi-sport athletic organization with more than 3.7 million participants competing in 13 sanctioned sports.

CHARLIE-LAROCHE-388-1LaRoche was one of the guiding lights for USSSA, helping it thrive and grow into the powerhouse group it is today. In gratitude for his years of administrative and leadership service, the USSA inducted LaRoche into its Hall of Fame in 2001. All in all, he would give USSSA his undivided attention for 35 years.

“He was still involved with the USSSA when he passed away,” said his son, Chuck. “He was still making phone calls for USSSA from the hospital.”

Perhaps the most unique aspect of Charlie LaRoche was that he wasn’t an athlete, but he was definitely a participant in sports. He cheered, he guided, he supported the players. He was the man who made things happen for many sports teams in Florida.

After umpiring and conducting tournaments in Cocoa during the 1950s and 60s, LaRoche commenced his long USSSA career when he was appointed state umpire-in-chief.

Charlie LaRoche was one of the guiding lights for USSSA, helping it thrive and grow into the powerhouse group it is today. In gratitude for his years of administrative and leadership service, the USSA inducted LaRoche into its Hall of Fame in 2001. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com)

Charlie LaRoche was one of the guiding lights for USSSA, helping it thrive and grow into the powerhouse group it is today. In gratitude for his years of administrative and leadership service, the USSA inducted LaRoche into its Hall of Fame in 2001. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com)

He ran through the ranks, becoming Florida USSSA state director in 1981, division vice president in 1990 and the first national director of the USSSA men’s program in 1999.

According to USSSA estimates, he served as tournament director for more than 350 USSSA tournaments, including the Women’s World Series, the Men’s AA World and the Men’s Major World Series, played in Daytona Beach in 1994.

Among his USSSA kudos was the president’s award, presented at the USSSA national convention in New Mexico and National Office Award of Excellence, given to LaRoche at the USSSA’s national convention in San Diego.

One of those rare birds, a Brevard native of a Brevard native, LaRoche was born in Merritt Island and rarely left his beloved Space Coast.

“He was a cheerleader for Cocoa High,” said Chuck LaRoche. “He didn’t play, but he enjoyed being around sports.”

He did leave Brevard for a year to attend Florida State University (FSU) the very same year the school had opened its doors to women. Despite the ladies, LaRoche missed Brevard.

“He only stayed a year and came back home, then he went into the Navy just before Korea,” said Chuck LaRoche. “He was only at FSU a year, but he was a passionate Seminoles fan for the rest of his life.”

After military service, LaRoche worked at the Cocoa Post Office and with his grandfather in the tile business he owned. He eventually found his muse at Brevard Sporting Goods, the Cocoa store he operated for 20 years.

Brevard County thanked him for his contributions to the development of tourism in the Space Coast by presenting LaRoche with the Portrait of Excellence Award in 2000.

Besides his beloved Seminoles, he adored the Rotary Club of Cocoa, which he served for more than half a century, many of those years as the club treasurer, and the First Baptist Church of Cocoa, where he was a lifetime member.

Brevard County thanked him for his contributions to the development of tourism in the Space Coast by presenting LaRoche with the Portrait of Excellence Award in 2000.

LaRoche was the kind of guy who would go out of his way to say hello, to make you feel at home. For the USSSA, he was the mainstay that helped hold the organization together through both good and bad times.

THE 2014 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 9 with a cocktail reception at 6 p.m. – and dinner and ceremony at 7 p.m.

FOR INFORMATION & TICKETS to the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Induction dinner call 321-615-8111 or e-mail MaverickMultimedia@gmail.com


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