He coached his last game, but Mark Temons still was busy helping others.
Temons resigned following a victory over Bloomsburg April 27, but when he contacted me a week later he was not writing to discuss his legacy. In fact, the former Muncy softball coach never once mentioned his coaching resume. Instead, he was letting me know about a big game with a worthy cause approaching. He also mentioned he was in the process of writing a letter to help an area athlete play college softball.
That is Mark Temons.
Temons always was one of the good guys. He was a profile in courage and toughness, coaching the past 23 seasons while battling multiple sclerosis. He coached varsity sports for 38 seasons, but he always was more than a coach. At his core, Temons was a teacher and a role model. The lessons he taught went beyond the field. The athletes he coached learned as much about life as sports.
Forget the wins and the championships. That is Temons' enduring legacy.
"Coach Temons did not live up to his title of 'Coach.' Instead, he was a teacher, mentor, friend, and father-figure to many," said new Muncy coach Mallory Hafer, who was Temons assistant and JV coach earlier this season. "He sacrificed many nights away from his own family to provide softball instruction, collegiate recommendations, or life advice."
Temons, also an award-winning science teacher, always was looking out for his players and even rival competitors. Last summer, it appeared there would be no all-state softball team. The writer who put the teams together the past few years had taken another job and come early August, there still was was no team. Time was running out.
That is when Temons took charge. Upset that players from this talent-rich area would not receive recognition they had earned, Temons contacted softball writers throughout the state. Within weeks, a team had been selected and players throughout this area and all of District 4 earned some special honors.
The last few years Temons and his field hockey players organized a Coaches vs. Cancer tournament, raising more than $2,000 for the American Cancer Society. With Temons's help, the softball team will be holding its own Coaches vs. Cancer game May 12 when it hosts archrival Montgomery. When Temons contacted me, he wanted to make sure I knew about that game and that there would be winners on both sides that day.
That is Mark Temons.
He was never in coaching for himself. Even in retirement, Temons was touting his former assistant field hockey and softball coaches and crediting them for team successes. Temons was the one driving the bus, but he always preferred to project himself as just riding along.
Temons always was trying to help the kids on and off the field and it did not matter whether they played for his team or not. Granted, Temons went the extra mile for his players, but he also never turned away an opponent looking for help.
Make no mistake, though, Temons could coach. Muncy was a perennial contender under his direction and captured both the 2009 HAC-III and District 4 Class A championships. Temons guided Muncy to an 8-4 start this season and his team gave him a proper farewell when it dismantled Bloomsburg, 14-4. The Panthers had only one league loss at the time and snapped Southern Columbia's 25-game HAC-III winning streak last week, but the Indians played their most complete game this season. Temons left knowing his team was in good hands.
Going out with that win was nice, but Temons always had things in the proper perspective. Instead of basking in the glow of victory, Temons was reflective and thankful.
Wins on the field were a bonus. Watching his kids excel on and off the field provided this mentor his greatest joy.
"I have been privileged to coach so many remarkable players, some who were so naturally gifted and many who tried and gave everything they had," Temons said. "I have been to many weddings and get many birth announcements and graduation announcements and it is simply amazing. I have coached doctors, researchers, lawyers, teachers, moms and dads ... I have been a very lucky man."
Hafer is off to a good start since becoming head coach and helped Muncy (11-4) qualify for districts last week. A standout three-sport athlete at Athens High School and Mansfield University, she had led the JV team to a 9-0 record before earning her promotion. Temons said she will be one of the best coaches around for years to come and is excited about the program's direction.
It will not surprising if Hafer does a great job. After all, she had an excellent coach teaching her.
"His career as a Muncy softball coach cannot be summarized by his wins and losses columns. Instead, Coach Temons should be remembered most for his dedication to a program, its players, and the community he served," Hafer said. "For someone like Mark Temons, the title of "coach" is not applicable to a man whose expectations went above and beyond the game of softball."
That is Mark Temons.
DR. MASSE'S TOP FIVE
1. Jersey Shore (9-2): Center fielder Kayla Allen is hurting teams from both sides of the plate as her coaches help her adjust to hitting from the left side. The fastest player on her team, Allen used her speed and switch hitting to give Williamsport fits, igniting a first-inning rally with a lead-off bunt single while later hitting a single from the right side in an impressive 4-0 win.
"Kayla is fast and she's got a good eye for the ball. She can do it both ways and that's what makes her a big threat and that's what makes her a great lead-off hitter," coach Chris Glenn said. "A lot of kids don't want to bunt all the time and want to hit instead. She just does whatever I ask. She's happy to do it and gives me everything. As a coach I can't ask for more than that."
2. Williamsport (13-2): The Millionaires, who have a rematch with Jersey Shore Saturday, went 2-1 at last weekend's Williamsport Tournament, but coach Quint Bower would like to see the offense do a better job with runners on base. Williamsport left runners on third with one out twice in a 1-0 loss to Conwell Egan and also had some trouble in those situations despite beating State College and Loyalsock, 6-2 and 5-3, respectively.
"We need to get them to understand that in these close games against good teams we have to make the small plays to move those runners," Bower said. "I think we're starting to understand but we're a little inconsistent on offense. Fortunately, we have a little time to get rolling."
3. Warrior Run (13-1): The quest for perfection ended Thursday when Mifflinburg edged the Defenders, 2-1. Really, though, that loss does not hurt Warrior Run because it still controls its own destiny in terms of its long-term goals. The Defenders still own the top seed in District 4 Class AA and will clinch that spot along with their first league title if they win their final games. Warrior Run has a big game Monday at Central Columbia along with another challenge Wednesday against Loyalsock. First baseman Jackie Clemens had a big game in a 9-0 win over South Williamsport, finishing a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
4. Loyalsock (7-9): No District 4 team has played a tougher schedule than the Lancers who lost in nine innings to eventual tournament champion Union-Endicott last week in addition to Williamsport. Every team that has beaten Loyalsock has at least 10 wins and the one that does not (Central Columbia) is the defending District 4 Class AA champion. The Lancers still have Warrior Run, Mifflinburg and Jersey Shore on their schedule. If Loyalsock does qualify for the playoffs it could be a difficult out. Catcher Amanda Daneker has made a verbal commitment to play at Coastal Carolina in 2014 and fellow underclassmen like Allison Czap, Ashleigh Bair and Kylie Welker hit the ball well at Saturday's tournament.
5 (tie). Montgomery (9-5): Prior to 2004, Montgomery had never reached the playoffs. One more win and the Red Raiders are playoff-bound for a ninth straight season. It has been an impressive run for a strong program that reached the 2010 state championship and has reached the District 4 Class A semifinals every season since 2005. Senior second baseman Courtney Wilk has been instrumental to that successful run and has three multi-hit performances in her last four games.
5. (tie). Wellsboro (9-4): One of the district's youngest teams is growing up quick. The Green Hornets made a nice statement Saturday, beating Towanda, 3-2. The Black Knights entered with the second-best record in District 4 Class AA, but sophomore Brooke Kohler threw a five-hitter. Kohler is 3-0 and has allowed just seven hits and three runs against Towanda and last year's district runner-up Troy.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK-Hannah Cole, Muncy: The senior center fielder will play for Division I St. Francis next year and is one of many players Temons has helped excel over the years. Cole went 7 for 8 in three wins last week, hitting two doubles, a home run and adding four RBIs. The three-time all-state selection is hitting close to .725.
GAME OF THE WEEK-Lewisburg at Hughesville: Forget the records here. The big thing is that Thursday's contest is a "Strikeout Cancer" game with money being donated to The American Cancer Society. Hughesville players will be wearing bright pink t-shirts and selling ribbons, collecting donations and raffling off pink practice balls. They also have started collecting flat donations for items such as "per strikeouts." These players are showing as good as they are on the field they are even better off it.
Masse may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org