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Diamond Diary by Kevin Cooney

May 14, 2004

A Bad Part of a Good Job:

Everyone thinks that I have the greatest job in the world. It is real hard to argue the point with anyone that has never been a coach, and in truth, I would never claim that coaching is anything less than a great profession. But it does have its downside.

Not too many coaches get to be present at many of the important events in their children's lives. I missed a lot of my sons' birthdays as they grew up, and not just because they were in New Jersey and I was in Florida. My daughter Maggie turns six next Friday, but her Dad will be at a game in Macon, Georgia. I think I saw two of my son's high school baseball games. Of course, there are many parents who face those problems because of their jobs.

I used to feel guilty about my job. My Dad drove a Public Service bus in Newark, NJ for thirty years. He left our house before sunrise and was rarely home by dinner time. He was the first bus through the city on the morning of the Newark riots. No one knew what was happening, but when he heard shots fired, his bus made no more stops.

How did I get so lucky to spend my life doing something filled with so much fun?

What line of work allows you to share in the competitive spirit and joys and disappointments of young men? Who else gets to experience the high that comes in those special moments when your players explode in relief and pure joy as they win a big game?

But there is a dark side.

Usually it is helping young people deal with failure or shattered dreams. Sometimes it is being the person choosing not to put a player in the lineup and depriving him of his reason for being. Most coaches would agree that the toughest part of the job is when you sit a kid down and tell him he is cut. No one likes crushing someone else's dream.

But there is a tougher part of the job.

More times than I would want, I have had to take a young man aside and deliver the news of a parent or a sibling's death.

Tuesday was Rob Horst's turn.

His mother, Sue Bolin had been suffering from colon cancer for a number of years. Her condition nearly prevented Rob from signing with FAU, but she encouraged him to go. Like all good mothers, she wanted the best for her son, even if she had to make the sacrifice of not seeing him much.

Last year Sue got down for some games and I enjoyed meeting her. We would converse by e-mail during the season, but she looked so happy seeing Rob and his new home in person.

This season was tougher, as Sue battled the disease. The chemotherapy that these patients endure is draining. Sue could not get here, but she listened to our games on the internet and followed Rob through these diaries. He told me she got a kick out of us referring to him as Old Man Horst.

Rob's brother, Ryan, called me just before practice Tuesday afternoon. I found Rob in our trainer's office. He looked so happy and upbeat as I entered. Last week he graduated and he had a huge weekend in our sweep of Troy State.

In trying to console him, I offered my opinion that the terminally ill will fight to live as long as they feel the need. Sue Bolin knew that her son Rob had finally gotten his degree, and was having a great season on the field. He and his girlfriend, Abby, had visited Sue in Nebraska last year, and I am sure she believed her son was in good hands. She held on until after graduation and then was content to slip free from this world and pass on to the next.

I hope Sue and my Mom have seats together for tonight's game. KC

Sue Bolin
Jolisse Funeral Home
2102 Broadway
Scott's Bluff, NE 69361
Funeral is Monday



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