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How to make them count

Reflecting on a year of high school sports filled with record-setting accomplishments and historic milestones, the story that resonates most with me is one I wish I had never had to write. Watching Archbishop Spalding football coach Mike Whittles in his very public battle with stage four pancreatic cancer made my heart break but at the same time made it soar. While undergoing chemotherapy, Whittles made it to all but a couple of games as he coached the No. 10 Cavaliers to a playoff berth in their first season in the MIAA A Conference. He’s never lost his sense of humor or his unwavering optimism in the face of one of the toughest cancers to beat. He inspired his players, his peers and a legion of fans with his determination to be on the sidelines every Friday and team adopted one of his favorite sayings as their season’s theme: “Make every day count.” Long before each day became so very precious, Whittles lived his life that way. A dedicated family man with a deep religious faith, he sets a lifestyle example for every teenager to emulate. As more and more coaches make headlines for all the wrong reasons, Whittles makes us remember that many coaches still teach their players much more than route running and blocking technique. Unfortunately, these coaches rarely make the headlines unless tragedy strikes. Whittles, 58, has been weakened by radiation treatments in recent weeks, but he continues to fight. He assured me I would be writing a five-year follow-up story. I pray he’s right. -- Katherine Dunn
Ruark,Steve, Patuxent Publishing
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