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Coaching vs. cancer: The inspirational story of Mike Grossner

On August 18 of this year, Mike Grossner began his own personal three-a-days. There were the regular two-a-days as head coach of Baker University, an NAIA school in Baldwin City, Kan., and then there was his daily cycles of chemotherapy and radiation to fight off squamos cell carcinoma, a cancer that had formed in his neck that was discovered a week prior.

“If you saw me that Friday (Aug. 15), the stitches were … my whole neck was hanging,” Grossner told the Lawrence World-Jouranl in October. “I looked like I had been slashed across the neck pretty good.”

Grossner settled into his routine throughout the fall, treatment in the morning and practice in the afternoon, and missed only two practices through the first half of the season. As a matter of fact, he excelled. The Wildcats won their first seven games of the season and rose to No. 2 in the NAIA rankings before closing the season with an 8-3 record, with two of their three losses coming in one-possession games.

As Grossner continued to coach while he fought and fight while he coached, he served as an inspiration to his team.

“It kind of put everything in check for us this year. Coach G is not one to talk about himself or bring attention to himself, and the fact that he brought that up before the game and said that he really wanted to win that game really inspired us,” wide receiver Connor Stremel said. “I think it brought us through if you look at the kind of game we had. It was a fight until the end, and it was a tough game for us.”

However, Grossner's story resonated far beyond Kansas. In his now nine seasons at the helm at Baker, Grossner has done much of his recruiting in the San Diego area. Local high school coach Rolando Rivera put together this video of former Grossner's former players encouraging their coach and talking about the lasting impact he had on their lives.

The mark of any successful coach is not the games he wins, but the lives he touches. By any measure, Mike Grossner is a tremendously successful coach.

Keep fighting, coach.