Wednesday, February 11, 2009

RIP Coach Strodtman

It's the weirdest thing saying "RIP" for Coach Strodtman. I hate that acronym...but when thinking of a title for the post, RIP seems the most fitting. And I can actually imagine him HATING anyone saying RIP in regards to his death. Ick.

Coach Strodtman was my high school assistant soccer coach for freshman and sophomore year. With that being said, he had the most impact on my life of any soccer coach I ever played for. The 2 years I played for him were the most influential in my life out of the 13 years I played soccer.

He passed away one year ago today. He was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in which he battled for something crazy like 8 years. He coached and taught the ENTIRE time. Who does that?? Who is faced with a poor prognosis and continues to touch the lives of many through their teaching and love of a game?? Coach Strodtman did.

Alan Jackson's Small Town Southern Man has reminded me of Coach Strodtman since the first time I heard it....

Born the middle son of a farmer
And a small town Southern man
Like his daddy's daddy before him
Brought up workin' on the land
Fell in love with a small town woman
And they married up and settled down
Natural way of life if you're lucky
For a small town Southern man

First there came four pretty daughters
For this small town Southern man
Then a few years later came another
A boy, he wasn't planned
Seven people livin' all together
In a house built with his own hands
Little words with love and understandin'
From a small town Southern man

And he bowed his head to Jesus
And he stood for Uncle Sam
And he only loved one woman
(He) was always proud of what he had
He said his greatest contribution
Is the ones he'll leave behind
Raised on the ways and gentle kindness
Of a small town Southern man
(Raised on the ways and gentle kindness)
(Of a small town Southern man)

Callous hands told the story
For this small town Southern man
He gave it all to keep it all together
And keep his family on his land
Like his daddy, years wore out his body
Made it hard just to walk and stand
You can break the back
But you can't break the spirit
Of a small town Southern man

Finally death came callin'
For this small town Southern man
He said it's alright 'cause I see angels
And they got me by the hand
Don't you cry, and don't you worry
I'm blessed, and I know I am
'Cause God has a place in Heaven
For a small town Southern man

"He said his greatest contribution is the ones he'll leave behind." I think this line really captures the reason I associate this song with Coach Strodtman. His children meant the world to him, but so did the people he coached. He contributed SO.MUCH. to so many people that this line just makes sense when associating him with this song.

Coach Strodtman was such a unique character that it's really hard to explain unless you knew him. He was an incredible person. I feel amazingly blessed to have known him, been coached by him, and to have continued a friendship with him after my soccer career. He is one of those people that makes you a better person for having known him.

What a familiar picture for me. This is how I best remember him...on the sideline of our games coaching.

There are so many memories that I have of Coach Strodtman...

  • "What is that bow on your head?? Take it off!" This is what Coach Strodtman said to one of my fellow freshman teammates before our first game as a Kewpie. I can remember arriving at Hickman after being at school at Oakland Jr. High (9th grade) for our first varsity game. I was so nervous. He quickly calmed my nerves when he demanded that my teammate take the bow off because she was NOT a cheerleader. :) I was immediately drawn to him after this comment. :)
  • "You are sophomore now. Take your skirt off and play!" He said this to me during one of our first practices my sophomore year of high school. I, apparently, was playing really timid that day. He definitely got his point across and I quickly learned my roll as a sophomore.
  • I can remember my freshman or sophomore year when Coach Strodtman busted out the rule book to overturn a very pivotal call by the referee. He knew exactly which page this particular rule was. He completely "called out" the ref. It was classic. This was definitely not the first or the last time that he pulled out the rule book to overturn a call. This totally shows his passion for the game.
  • "I will be getting my dinner through IV as the team eats at McDonalds." My freshman year of college, I went to a local (Kansas City) soccer game to watch Coach Strodtman coach. This was one of his first years as the head women's coach at Hickman. He was telling me that the girls would stop at McDonalds for dinner on the way home, but that the doctors had recently inserted a central line into him so he would be having "dinner" through his IV on his way home. The heart he demonstrated with that quote will never be erased from my memory.
  • "Tell her to take her skirt off and play." Coach, ever so pleasantly, said this to my mother-in-law when she told him about my thoughts about possibly quitting my college soccer team because of a conflict with my coach. I TOTALLY needed that at that point in my soccer career. I am pretty sure I would have quit because I was fed up with soccer. He definitely kept my heart in the game from the time I was a sophomore in high school until I finished my career as a graduating senior in college. I definitely thank him for that.
  • "The pitch." Such a random quote. He always referred to the soccer field as the pitch. Anytime I hear it referred to that, I will always think of him. I love it. :)

Who could forget his pink hat?? It was either the pink hat or the camo hat. :) Along with the hat...who could forget that high pitch voice? It was the voice that was SO familiar to highschool coaches, refs, and players around the central Missouri area. I do not want to remember him any other way.

As I sit here with tears streaming down my face in my #13 Superman t-shirt all I have to say is....thank you Coach for passing on your passion for life. I thiank you for teaching me to have the same type of passion . And I admire you for passing along that passion to so many people. RIP Coach Strodtman (even though I KNOW you would hate that phrase). Love you! :)

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