Health scare doesn’t keep Hatcher from coaching role
MARK HATCHER tried to ease his way back following surgery for kidney cancer. He really did.
But once a coach, always a coach, it seems.
Hatcher, Logan's longtime boys basketball coach, had about 20 percent of his right kidney removed at the Cleveland Clinic in late May, and has since followed the recommendations concerning his recovery.
Well, most of them, anyway.
Just one week after the surgery and bearing a 10-inch scar, he participated in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life at the Logan High football field - taking one lap around the track as a cancer survivor.
"That was tough,'' Hatcher said.
A week after that, Hatcher held his annual youth basketball camp for 85 children ages 4-13 at the Logan Field House, as well as the middle school and grade school gyms. Then he followed the progress of his own Logan High team during the three-week approved summer practice period, first for a couple games at St. Albans, then to Marshall.
For the most part, Hatcher behaved himself.
"At the basketball camp, I sort of had to yell for the kids to get on their teams,'' Hatcher said, "and just yelling, it hurt a little bit. I had to rest after that. It probably wasn't the smartest thing going to the camp, but it's been my camp for 12 years and I've been doing it for 20 years now, so I felt like I had to be there.''
Kevin Gertz, the girls basketball coach at Logan and a buddy of Hatcher's, said it didn't take long for Hatcher to go a little too far during the three-week practice period.
"He actually tried to coach a game,'' Gertz said, "but he blew his stack like he always does, and he had to stop.''
At Marshall, Hatcher scaled it back some, sitting in the stands and watching his team play, talking with friends and acquaintances.
"It was difficult,'' Hatcher said of watching instead of coaching. "I was under strict orders from my family not to scream. I talked a lot with friends, fans and even fans of the other teams. We talked about the surgery and stuff like that, and talked basketball. I got the chance to sit back and talk to a lot of buddies, referees and coaching buddies.''
Hatcher heaped praise upon his assistant coaches - Rodney Campbell, Brad Napier, Jerry Greene and Wes Hatcher - for keeping things in order during the three-week period.
"Nurses and coaches are probably the worst people at [taking medical advice],'' Hatcher said, "and I'm both. So that makes it tough. But I've done pretty good on my recovery. I did everything I needed to do.''
Hatcher said he's been cleared to return to work as a nurse at Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston the second week of July. He's also had to adopt some lifestyle changes.
"I lost 15 pounds,'' Hatcher said. "They told me it would be nice if I lost a little bit of weight. So I'm watching what I eat, and I take my blood pressure medication, like most coaches have to do. I've had to watch [my blood pressure], but I'm doing better at it.
"I'm doing good. I did have cancer, but they're pretty sure they got it all. I've got to have an X-ray and CT scan in six months, and another six months after that. If both are clear, I get one every year for five, six years.''
Hatcher was able to attend the North-South All-Star basketball game at the South Charleston Community Center on June 15, and expects to be there fulltime for the start of Logan basketball practice in November.
"I'm intending to be there,'' said Hatcher, who took the Wildcats to the Class AAA state title in 2010. "Hopefully my CT scan in October is clear, and I should be ready to go.''
Another area basketball coach is recovering after a health scare - Fred McPherson, a longtime boys assistant at Charleston Catholic who is also a veteran high school football official and baseball umpire.
After not feeling well umpiring games in late April, McPherson underwent testing, according to Catholic coach Bill McClanahan, and received some startling news.
"He had two golf-ball-sized blood clots - one in each lung,'' McClanahan said, "and one in back of his right leg. I was there when the doctor came in and said it was pretty much a miracle he was alive. He said, '50 percent of the people who experience what you had die.' Fred looked at me and we were both [speechless].''
McClanahan said McPherson was hospitalized for five or six days, and now takes blood thinners. McPherson isn't expected to work high school football games this season, but should return to the Irish bench this winter and otherwise resume his normal regimen.
"We played golf together this past Friday,'' McClanahan said, "and other than being a little short of breath, he was OK.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or email@example.com.