by Nate Kissingford

***story contains quoted profanity - editors***

“In third grade,” senior Cason Joseph Coats reminisced, “we took a field trip to Mouse’s and everyone in my class ordered milkshakes and chocolates. I walked up there and said ‘can I just get a black coffee please?’ and I got my black coffee.” An old soul from a young age, Cason was born in Georgetown, Texas and moved to Ouray 10 years ago. He loves Cup o’ Noodles, Van Helsing, and drawing. 

This August, Cason is headed to the Navy.  “I’m trying to ride this for as long as I can: twenty, thirty years maybe,” he told me. “My job of choice is gonna be Master at Arms, which is basically just on-site police on a naval base or ship. I’d just be there to make sure that nothing gets past, nothing gets stolen, and no one ****ing kills one another.”

He remarked to me that he will remember fondly “the group of dips I call my class” after he graduates, a group he has only recently become close with. “I was very much a very lonely person throughout most of my time here,” he said. “It was really only senior year that I started to connect with my class, which is kind of sad to think about now.”

Cason has always been a unique personality in our school. I remember being scared of him as an elementary schooler and into middle school. We had never talked personally, but in class he would often yell or say aggressive things which made me nervous to approach him. Then, in middle school, I worked at Ouray Brewery and he came in for his shift as I was leaving mine. I was taken aback by his good-natured greeting: “Hey Nate, how’s it going?” We had a casual conversation and I remember being struck by his relaxed and genuine kindness. 

Cason is aware of this phenomenon. “I can definitely be very cynical at very inappropriate times,” he said. “I can also be very spiteful, bitter, and overall I can appear to be very much an a**hole to most people I meet. Genuinely at the end of the day, it kind of is a character I built up over the course of the ten years I’ve gone to this school, where I’m just this very cynical bitter person, but you catch me outside and I’ll strike up a conversation with you absolutely. But in school, I don’t know why, it’s just something that I turn on, like a face I put on and, while I don’t want to brag, I’ve gotten pretty ****ing good at it.”

One thing that brings him joy is working out. “My second semester sophomore year, my parents got me weights and a bench press and I used the s*** out of those. I still have those weights at home for when I don’t feel like going to the gym.” But Cason is happiest at the gym. “It’s like my own personal escape,” he said. “Whether I’m feeling stressed, sad, or demotivated, I go there and just release all that in a workout and I leave there pretty satisfied, pretty proud of myself.” 

Cason’s stepdad, Tim, who came up multiple times in our discussion, has deeply inspired Cason. “He’s always been a really hard worker: he works two jobs right now just to be able to pay the bills and he’s still constantly trying to make time for me and my mom and I really appreciate that. He was the only male figure that actually wanted to connect and raise me as a person and he never once gave up on me. Tim was like, ‘you know what? I’m gonna tackle this responsibility.’ That was awe-inspiring and I respect that to the highest degree.”

This inspiration carries into his ambition for the future. “I want to be a better person, a better friend, genuinely I just want to be the best version of myself that I can be,” said Cason. “I don’t know when that’s gonna happen, it could be five years or 50 years from now. I just hope that one day I can just be likable enough where I feel pleased with myself.”