Former Western Men’s Soccer Coach Rocco “Rock” Basacco Passes Away December 24, 2021
Former long time University of Western Ontario Mustangs Men’s Soccer Coach Rocco “Rock” Basacco passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on December 24, 2021.
“Rock” as he was known within soccer circles, spent 21 years at the helm of the Western Mustangs men’s soccer program, He attended and played soccer at Western in the late ’70s, captaining the squad for three years, an Ontario all-star in both 1976 and 1977 with the Mustangs. and earning the team’s Most Valuable Player award in 1977. He played for Canada on two occasions at the FISU Summer Universiade. Following his playing career in the purple and white, the W Club member (2000), Rock had a stint as an assistant coach from 1983 to 1986 before taking the reins as the head coach of the program in 1995. He was part of Canada’s best finish at the FISU event, with a fourth place at the 2007 Games in Bangkok.
Rock had a passion for teaching and coaching, having spent 37 years as a high school teacher. Rock also developed a love for the restaurant world, following in his brother Syl’s footsteps, managing the family restaurants for many years.
Rock’s tenure at Western brought stability to the program, guiding the Mustangs to 21 playoff appearances in his 21 seasons. The program won seven Ontario University Athletics championships and two U Sports (formerly Canadian Interuniversity Sport) National Championship titles in 1998 and 1999. Basacco led the Mustangs to nine appearances at nationals, with Western capturing two bronze and one silver medal to go along with their two national titles.
In 2018 Basacco, who had led Western to great heights early in his head coaching career decided after 21 years, felt it was the time to step away to let a new coach return the program to national dominance again.
Basacco stated upon his retirement, “I put 21 years in, and thought it was time to give the program an opportunity to bring a new coach in and get the program back to the next level.” “We’ve been very competitive, so it hasn’t been an issue, but at some point more time needs to be put into recruiting and all the other factors that come into play to make it a competitive program.”
After taking over a program that had never won a national title and that was suffering through a 42-year OUA championship drought, Basacco built a national powerhouse at his alma mater, transforming an unexceptional team into one of Ontario’s annually competitive sides.
Basacco’s ability to recruit the best student-athletes allowed him the opportunity to build such a successful program. To Rock in speaking of his retirement with Mike DeBoer of the Western Gazette back in January 2018, “The key is the quality of the student-athlete coming in, so recruiting plays a huge role,” “We’ve been really fortunate that we had some great success early, and success breeds success. Western has such a great academic reputation, and we attracted a lot of top quality student-athletes.”
Visitation will be held on Wednesday, December 29, 2021 from 2:00-4:00 and 7:00-9:00 p.m. at Westview Funeral Chapel, 709 Wonderland Road North, London, where the funeral service will be conducted on Thursday, December 30, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. Those wishing to attend the visitation or funeral will be required to register online and show proof of vaccination and photo ID on arrival. Please go to: For more details go to: http://www.westviewfuneralchapel.com/pages/obituaries/details.php?p=5227 for more information.
Those wishing to make a donation in memory of Rock are asked to consider the London Regional Cancer Program.
Charitable donations may be made to:
London Regional Cancer Program
Western Gazette: January 9, 2018 https://westerngazette.ca/sports/mens-soccer-coach-rock-basacco-announces-his-retirement/article_092a7b04-f550-11e7-99c6-b3cd536b501e.html
London Free Press: January 8, 2018 https://lfpress.com/2018/01/08/longtime-soccer-coach-rock-basacco-retiring
Canada Obituaries: December 27, 2021 https://necrocanada.com/obituaries-2021/basacco-rocco-rock-december-24th-2021/
Picture Credit:.Jenny Jay / GAZETTE