Rah Spirit coach dies of sudden heart attack - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Rah Spirit coach dies of sudden heart attack

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

The Rah Spirit cheer family is mourning the loss of a man who touched many lives during his long career. 

Cheer coach, Tjuan Elliott passed away Saturday of an unexpected heart attack. 

His brother tells Channel 3, the 40-year-old was sleep at the time of the heart attack. He said Elliott was completely healthy, and just had a positive check-up with his doctor days before his death. 

On Monday, students and staff filled Rah Spirit with disappearing smiles and heartbreak after losing their coach and friend. A nightmare many of them are struggling to accept.  

"It's crazy how you can read one text message and world just flips over it was insane I just started crying. I didn't believe it I was like this can't be real I didn't understand," said cheer student, Grace Hatala. 

For about 20 years, Elliott changed the lives of many with his contagious smile and tough love coaching style. It's what Hatala said made the hard practices less painful. 

"He was like that person that you walk into a room and you're just like you just see his big smile and he just lights everything up. He was great," said Hatala. "He definitely pushed us to be our best and he not only encouraged us every single practice and every time we saw him, but he made it fun you know every time you come to practice you looked forward to it because he was gonna be there." 

For many people like Saylor Brown, Elliott stood as a constant reminder to never quit. 

"It's just like hard because he's the reason I came back every year and he's the reason I started so like it just doesn't feel like it will be the same without him here." 

But it was Elliott's positive and competitive spirit, his best friend and Rah Spirit manager, Andy Quattrochi says was most inspiring. 

"He never wanted anything for himself. He wanted those kids...he wanted the satisfaction for those kids to 10 years down the road see him and tell them how much they meant to him," said Quattrochi. "There will be more talented people and people will come and go, but there will never be another Tjuan Elliott, never."

Elliott didn't have any children, but he did capture the hearts of the thousands of students he's coached and cared for. 

"We're so blessed to have gotten the time that we did with him and I just hate that no one else like other people who haven't met him they don't get to experience what we got to."

Though he's gone, Brown said he will live in their hearts and minds forever. 

"The team's gonna struggle a lot with like moving on without him but I fell like this season we're gonna do it for him and we're gonna do our best," said Brown. 

Funeral arrangements have not been made, but the the family is planning to lay Elliott to rest by the end of the week. 

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