A year ago, Roosevelt junior high girls basketball coach Mike Lundy helped organize a large-scale junior high tournament that helped raise money for the American Cancer Society. Lundy and his players raised more than $1,000 and showed they were as good off the court as they were on it.
Now, unfortunately, Lundy finds himself fighting his own personal cancer battle.
Lundy was diagnosed Monday and hearing the news hit me like a punch in the gut. Any time anyone has cancer your heart goes out to them. But it just seems like something like that is not supposed to happen to someone like Lundy.
In the simplest teams, Lundy is one of the good guys. He is a great coach, but he is an even better person. He has coached at Roosevelt and at Williamsport High School, while teaching math there for more than a decade, positively impacting the lives of countless players and students. As the father of a young girl, I can say that Lundy is the kind of coach you want your daughter to play for and the kind of man you hope your daughter marries someday.
As a coach, Lundy is as good as it gets. He wins and he teaches, brilliantly balancing the primary duties of a scholastic coach. He is as gracious in defeat as in victory and has helped develop some of the best players in recent Williamsport history, including Madina Ali, Michelle Rorie, Lakeema Jones and Rachel Fatherly.
And just because it is not basketball season year-round does not mean Lundy is not helping Williamsport and local athletics. He also assists with the school's football program and is a Little League Volunteer, serving as a team host at the Little League World Series. So really, "Uncle Mike" has influenced people world-wide when you think about it and that is a good thing. The world could use more Mike Lundy's.
To understand what Lundy has meant to his players and students, past and present, one needed only see his Facebook page light up almost immediately after he was diagnosed. Thoughts, prayers and well-wishes flooded in, and continue to do so, with many expressing how they now hoped they could help the man who has helped them in so many ways. You do show that kind of emotion for someone who has helped you win a few games. You show that kind of emotion and support when someone has made a major positive impact in your life.
Forget all the wins, those players and students are Lundy's legacy, and what a legacy it is.
Lundy has been a competitor his entire life and now he faces his biggest game, his biggest challenge. You can bet too that he will attack this challenge the way he has dealt with everything in his life - with class, honor and dignity. Lundy is the ultimate nice guy, but don't think that diminishes a burning desire to win. Lundy hates to lose and cancer might have met its match.
The late, great Jim Valvano once said "Cancer, cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever."
You better believe, that quote applies to Lundy. His health might be taking a hit, but Lundy's character and personality will only grow stronger. He is a man with an entire community behind him and that community is ready to rally around him.
Throughout his life, Lundy has worn many labels: son, athlete, coach, teacher, husband and father. A little while down the road I believe Lundy will add another label that will inspire hope and determination. And this label will mean more than any championship ever could.
Masse may be reached at email@example.com