PLYMOUTH, Ind. (WNDU)- On Wednesday, the Bremen and Plymouth girls tennis teams played a match in memory of Bremen’s head coach Mark Wagner, more commonly known by the girls as ‘Wags’.
Coach Wags died in February only three weeks after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Before Wednesday night’s match the girls held a special ceremony in his honor. Senior teammates took turns sharing stories about him and explaining how he was always rooting for all of the girls.
“The last thing you told me was sorry,” said senior Araceli Jimenez. “You made it about us when you were the one going through the hard time. Your selflessness will always amaze me.”
Players also shared that Wags would always take them out to a restaurant of their choice after a few matches, but they said that he was never good at hiding that the tennis fund paying for the meals was actually his wallet.
“After three years I’ve never seen him complain or be bothered by paying for us,” said senior Megan Hershberger. “He did it with a humble spirit and wanted us all to know that we were seen as family, that our hard work was appreciated and we were loved.”
They all wore their ‘Wags’ hats and purple shirts to raise awareness for pancreatic cancer. The girls also had ribbons in their hair to represent other types of cancer that have impacted them personally:
Grey-brain cancer, pink-breast cancer, teal-cervical cancer, gold-childhood cancer, dark blue-colon cancer, periwinkle-esophageal and stomach cancer, kelly green-gallbladder cancer, orange-kidney cancer and leukemia, emerald green-liver cancer, white-lung cancer, lime green-lymphoma, black-melanoma, brandy-multiple myeloma, teal-ovarian cancer, purple-pancreatic cancer, light blue-prostate cancer, yellow-bone cancer, orchid-testicular cancer and peach-uterine cancer.
Both Coach Wags’ son and wife spoke at the ceremony.
“I just want to encourage you to keep going even though it’s even harder this season than it has been before, but play tennis,” said Tony Wagner, Coach Wags’ son. “He would be heartbroken if anybody didn’t want to play tennis. If there’s one thing he taught you it was to go out and play.”
“Doing something like this for Mark is a win from the loss,” said Jean Wagner, his wife. “Every one of you has that opportunity every time you play and just to be that better person and find a win from your loss and to learn how to win and lose graciously and with dignity, it just helps you get out there and be better people.”
As part of the ‘Smash Cancer’ event, the girls all raised nearly 2,200 dollars that will go to the Cancer Association of Marshall County.
Coach Wags has been a tennis coach for about 28 years. His wife said he’s only been the head coach for the girls about five now.
To these girls he will never be forgotten for his selflessness and kind spirit.
“Thank you for the effort you put into making me a better tennis player, follower of my faith and an overall better person,” said Jimenez. “Every game I play will always be played for you and God because you always taught me that was who we were playing for.”
“Wags took a team of girls and made us realize that the meaning of life is not success, but cherishing every moment of life and sharing it with others,” said Hershberger. “That it’s not about being the greatest, but being great with what you are given.”