'He was a rock star': Former Glenbrook South soccer coach, teammate reflect on 'people person' Iñaki Bascaran

  • A Glenbrook South boys soccer team captain in 2015, Iñaki Bascaran initiates a throw-in during a game against Glenbrook North.

    A Glenbrook South boys soccer team captain in 2015, Iñaki Bascaran initiates a throw-in during a game against Glenbrook North. Courtesy of Seong Ha

  • Iñaki Bascaran

    Iñaki Bascaran

 
 
Posted11/11/2021 8:00 AM

The 1 percent of the 1 percent.

That's how highly Glenbrook South High School business education teacher and former Titans boys soccer coach Seong Ha considers one of his old high school players and team captains, Iñaki Bascaran.

 

"He was a rock star," Ha said, "and he epitomized the best of Glenbrook South."

A 23-year-old Chicago resident originally from Glenview and a graduate of Glenbrook South's Class of 2016, Bascaran was pronounced dead Nov. 5 after the Chicago Police Marine Unit recovered his body from the Chicago River near the 1000 block of South Wells Street. He was last seen by friends late on the night of Oct. 30 on the 100 block of West Hubbard Street after leaving a Lincoln Park bar.

Ha said Bascaran's impact was evident in the reaction on social media in the days after he went missing. First a search and then a vigil was held by the family in Chicago, as reported by ABC-7 News.

As of Wednesday morning a Go Fund Me account to support Bascaran's parents had raised more than $135,000 by 2,600 donors.

Services were held Wednesday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Glenview.

"I think a lot of people lost out in not getting to know Iñaki personally, but because of how it went viral there was limitless love for him across the world," Ha said. "I just feel lucky to have had the chance not only to coach him but just to know him."

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Alex Remeniuk had that chance, growing into adulthood on and off the Glenbrook South soccer field and since as the two remained friends.

A first-year fine arts teacher at Glenbrook South and also a 2016 graduate of the school, Remeniuk and Bascaran both played defensive back positions for the Titans.

"He'd lay everything on the line for his teammates," Remeniuk said.

They still connected in college -- Bascaran at Illinois, Remeniuk at Wisconsin -- and on school breaks. They maintained their camaraderie as adults.

"We kept in touch quite a bit," said Remeniuk, who lives in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, a couple miles from Bascaran's Lakeview home.

"Recently we continued playing soccer together in various leagues around Chicago, definitely keeping that bond alive that we started at Glenbrook South when we played together freshman year," Remeniuk said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I would say he was in a really good place -- active with friends, playing soccer, settling in a new position at work that he was enjoying."

Ha remembered Bascaran as "multidimensional."

On the soccer field, where Bascaran was team captain as a senior in the 2015 season, Ha said he presented the serious leadership demeanor of the Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews.

Comparing him to an assistant coach, Ha said Bascaran was an advocate for his teammates, relatable.

Off the pitch Ha recalled a gregarious gentleman, "a life of a lot of parties and a lot of lives." In school Bascaran was beloved by his teachers, Ha said.

"When he's with his friends his personality really, really shines. He was a people person. It wasn't one bucket that he belonged to, he didn't have one group of friends. He had such a dynamic personality, relating to many people, and that related not just to his college life but to his professional life.

"He wanted to know everybody and everybody wanted to know him. And that's just one reason why everyone is so shocked, and shook," Ha said.

At Glenbrook South, where Remeniuk now also coaches soccer, recalling the fun-loving "goofiness" Bascaran could project to his friends provides a break from the gloom Remeniuk and others feel about his passing.

"It's been a little tough, but the teachers here have been completely supportive and we're all kind of just feeling this one out together," Remeniuk said.

The young teacher said he's spoken with Titans varsity boys soccer coach Reggie Lara about doing something to recognize Bascaran, whether it's a memorial or a scholarship or a team award presented at the end of the season.

"I really want to knock this one out of the park so he's remembered well and his lasting impact on the program is seen as the years go by," Remeniuk said.

"I just feel very connected to it since he was my teammate. I want to do it the right way. He was truly a great person."

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