I won’t pretend that I was great friends with Chico Solares, the fanatical D.C. sports fan who died suddenly Tuesday night. But I can say that I probably had as many in-person interactions with him as with just about any sports fan in Washington. And in all of our dealings, he was witty, charming, friendly, wise, disarming and utterly devoted to supporting his teams.
Solares — who posted on this blog under the name CHICO13, usually about the Redskins, Georgetown or D.C. United — was best known as one of the elders and stalwarts of the Barra Brava. He shared the Washington fan’s disdain for several other cities and teams, but he was actually a voice of reason on most sports topics. And he was consistently supportive to me, from the first month this blog launched until the end.
United fans, not surprisingly, felt the same. From today’s Big Soccer thread:
* “Chico wasn’t an extremely loud guy; and yet his friendliness and kindness was so big it filled a room. The world seems so much emptier this morning.”
* “My own schedule keeps me away from most tailgates, but Chico was ALWAYS a friend I could recognize.”
* “He instantly treated me like family, because that’s how he treated everyone. This news is so hard to get. Chico was loved by everyone and I hope he passed at least with that knowledge.”
* “You could tell he was proud to be part of the DC supporter family, and that’s how he thought of all of us, as his extended family, even if he didn’t know your name.”
* “One of the greatest human beings I have ever met. He’d take the shirt off his back and give it to you if you needed it.”
* “He was the kindest, most generous person I have ever known. He lived without regret and fear and truly was the biggest inspiration and greatest friend one could ask for.”
And on and on and on.
United, of course, has a Wednesday night match, and for hundreds or maybe thousands of fans, it will be about Chico. Barra Brava, United and other supporters groups are joining together to honor him with silence during the 12th minute, from 11:00-11:59.
“For the ultimate 12th man,” as the Screaming Eagles put it.
I interviewed Chico many times. Often, the quotes were hysterical but unusable, for taste reasons. But Wednesday morning, I quickly found this quote from him that I did use, about Ben Olsen.
“Dude, man, he IS D.C. United,” he told me, when Olsen was struggling with injuries near the end of his career. “He’s the spirit of the team.”
The same could be said about Chico.