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Coming Full Circle

November 24, 2021

This past fall, both Colby and I have been helping coach one of the Wildcat Jr. football teams, the Cubs Red Team – most of the players are 5th graders. 

Myself twice a week plus games, then Colby as much as his schedule will allow during the High School football season.  The year culminated with an undefeated season (11-0) and league championship.  Actually during the year, regular season and postseason, only 6 points were scored against the team over those 11 games.  That is pretty impressive, I must say. 

Summer practice on the field, watching the kids run.

I am starting with the end, however really this journey began about 10 years ago.  November 8th 2011, I suffered a grand mal seizure.  I was at a Starbucks, meeting a potential new client with a Co-Worker, when it occurred.  I was out cold and came to in the ambulance on the short trip over to the UW medical center – I was at the U Village Starbucks.  Anyhow that started my journey with brain cancer.  An MRI revealed a massive growth (tennis ball sized) in my head. Which lead to surgery, then basically starting in 2012 a year of chemotherapy.  In August of that year, Jason Wilmot had agreed to coach the 8th grade Junior Wildcat Football team.  He obviously did not have a child on the team, as his son was a baby at the time.  He asked if I wanted to help out.  I will be 100% honest that I was pretty hesitant, due to my treatment and knowing that I would not be able to make everything.  He was like, just come out as much as you can, anything you give would be great. I said yes.  Honestly it was an amazing distraction from treatment and just fun to work with kids.  It also gave me a group of kids to watch move through the high school program and ended up with lots of “Hey coach do you remember me?” during that group’s high school years.  I think being a part of something bigger than myself was also important at that time in my life. During chemo, walking up Kite hill at the Community Park, without having to stop was a major accomplishment for me at that time.  The team finished around .500 that year, however several of those players went on to play in college.  I still run into some of the parents around Snoqualmie or at games, which is fun.  Probably the best part of the season came, not on the field, but at the 2012 Seattle Brain Cancer Walk.  Back then the Walk was in the fall, it was my first time at the event, we had Team Defeat Goliath registered.  Unbeknownst to me, just about the entire team choose to participate, thus at the walk most of the football team and their families supported me that day.  We had one of the largest teams at that walk and were called out during the ceremony as one of the top teams.  It was super cool to feel that support.  This was the first time that the community rallied around me.  Here is my recap of the Walk from 2012:

There would be two more times when the community really got behind me, once when my insurance turned me down for treatment, when my tumor was active again in 2016. Here is my recap of the fundraiser to help me deal with my insurance company who refused to cover some of my needed treatment:

Then in 2020, after I was in a serious rock climbing accident, people helped once again. 

Anyhow back to the football season.  It was the summer of 2020, Colby and I were out on a walk and ran into Jason, we started to talk about football as we knew that he was coaching, we also knew that the 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID.  That conversation stuck with Colby as, then later on, Jess and I were talking to him about how he would get his volunteer hours for 2021.  His response, “I want to help coach football.”  I was excited by this and told him that if he was in, that I would volunteer as well.  Working with Jason was the obvious next step, however I will be honest, I sort of dropped the ball.  I reached out to him, late in the game and asked if he would want Colby and I to join his staff.  He actually had already submitted his staff at that point in time, however, went through the Board process to get us added on as late additions.  Colby was obviously limited with his time, since he had high school football, but was able early on to be at most of the pre-season practices, then he came as much as his schedule would allow.  I committed to two days a week, then games, barring a schedule conflict.

I will admit, a proud parent moment was being able to watch Colby work with the kids and witness how they looked up to him. Colby committed his time and energy to this group of kids and they loved him for it.  I think the past ten years has made me realize that having impact is more important than having accomplishments. That time is the most precious resource that we have. It is one thing that we can’t get more of and something we always wish we had more of. I think kids especially understand the importance of investing time with them. Watching the facial reactions of the players, when they were around Colby, was a real treat for me. Having a high school kid show up and care about a group of 5th graders is awesome. He is the better addition to the coaching staff than me for sure. 

I will be honest, I have found coaching without a kid on the team to almost be more rewarding, as I am completely removed from the politics and bad stuff that comes along with youth athletics, I just get to focus on the kids.  I have had many people ask, when I am going to “retire”, honestly the answer is once it is not fun anymore and as long as someone wants to have me on their staff. My running joke has been that no Jr. football coach will turndown a volunteer that only wants to work with the offensive line, because there are just not that many people out there, who only want to work with linemen. I also know this is my way to give back and say thank you to a community that has given me quite a bit.

A big thank you to Jason Wilmot, the coaching staff, the players, and the parents for allowing Colby and myself to be part of the Jr. Wildcat Cubs Red Team this past season. It was the first year that I have coached were I did not have a player refuse to be on the offensive line. The part I am most proud of those players is that, there was only one game in which our line was not completely outsized compared to our opponents, yet they all battled hard and overcame the size difference. Honestly our line was small, but had big hearts. I am sure in the future some kid will hear me saying things like “I need violent hands”, “wide base, don’t stop your feet”, “I need at least six seconds”, “where does your head go?”, “always protect inside first”. 

Link to see championship game highlights can be found here:

I am sure that next fall you will be able to find me out amongst the elk in Snoqualmie, teaching proper stance and first step. As that is one small way that I can give back a little bit that has been given to me.

DEH

DG

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Anna sotelo permalink
    November 24, 2021 7:58 am

    I was the parent that recruited Jason to coach our team that year and it was the BEST year ever! It was the first year without a single “dad coach”. As memorable it is for you, it is for all of them. It was a great season indeed!
    Thank you David – for giving your time to them and even more for giving them such a memorable experience. ❤️
    Forever grateful- Anna Sotelo

  2. Joshua Stern permalink
    November 24, 2021 9:05 am

    David,
    Your impact with these kids was seen and felt! We very much appreciated your and Colby’s commitment to the team and to the individual kids! My youngest son also got to see Colby as he volunteered to help with flag football. You guys are great people and we were fortunate to get to know you.

    Thanks so much and God bless you guys!

  3. Chris tiernan permalink
    November 24, 2021 9:35 am

    Great work Dave & Colby and awesome write up. Glad to see you are still focused on those lineman who hopefully continue to love the game in years to come. So amazing to see all the different positions they end up playing in their H.S. years based on their size & speed.

  4. Matt Morgan permalink
    November 24, 2021 11:07 am

    Thank you for your time and care with these boys. Noah had a blast playing o-line because of you! There were many days this season that he’d come home excited to show me what Coach David taught him today- you were what kept him going back to practice after the hard days 😉
    Appreciate your impact on him this season!

    -Matt Morgan

  5. Rachelle Wilmot permalink
    November 24, 2021 11:44 am

    Thanks to you and Colby for helping out this season! Jason was so appreciative to have both of you on the coaching staff! You both were assets to the team and these players lives are better because you both were part of them! Eli gets so excited everytime he sees Colby! So fun for these boys to have a high schooler to look up to! Can’t wait for next year! Go CATS!!!

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