Chico High softball program rallies around coach with cancer

Mar 27, 2016 10:44 PM by Ross Field

For a couple hours a day this spring, the softball diamond is a sanctuary for first year Chico High varsity head coach Andy Wahl.

"Honestly it's what I look forward to every day," Wahl said. "I love this game, it's a great game."

A game that soothes his pain.

"When I found out I was sick, I wanted to get back out on the field," said Wahl.

Helping him forget his fight? The diamond. A place the Panthers unite.

Their connection is the toughness they get from their head coach.

"He's the strongest person I've known, so I know he can fight it," said Taylor Culp.

"I feel like it'll help us bond and we'll get through this together," said Kylie Powell.

One of the players is Andy's daughter, Savannah. She's on the JV team.

"He's going to get past it," said Savannah.

Her dad is a man who rrefuses to wear it on his sleeve.

"I feel terrific, I feel super strong," said Wahl.

But four days a month, every month, Wahl is forced to slide up his sleeve as a needle pumps a true test of toughness into his veins.

"I have adrenal cancer and it's not particularly a good kind of cancer," said Wahl.

"'Why him out of all people?' He is such a great guy and he didn't deserve it," said Bailey Reid.

Now he fights, taking trips to Stanford Medical Center for treatment.

"I go down for infusion chemotherapy and I'm taking chemotherapy pill form at home as well," said Wahl.

As Andy fights, a close friend who knows all too well what he's dealing with, has stepped up. Enter Becke Reid.

"I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma back in June," said Reid. "But it is something that is in remission right now."

Like Wahl softball provides an escape for Reid. Her daughter plays on the JV team where Becke serves as an assistant coach. When she found out about Andy's situation, she jumped into action and set up a gofundme page called "The Wahl Family Support Fund."

"I knew that trips to wherever he was going to be going to would be a huge financial burden," said Reid.

In two months, the page has raised more than $23,350 dollars.

"Every time we see more money it just means that he's huge in this community," said Savannah.

"It's pretty humbling," said Wahl.

"He's a great guy and we just want to see him get better," said Catherine Bultema.

"He means a lot to a lot of people including me, I'm with him," said Kevin Wisdom

Through all this adversity, the Chico softball teams have played well so far this season.

The JV's are 6-0-1, while the varsity squad sports a 6-2 record.

This is a story about friends having each other backs.

And 14-to-18-year-old girls learning a lesson from their coaches, understanding the toughness that's running through their veins.

It's about the ability to stand up no matter the opponent and fight.

"I'm not going to let it change anything I do day-to-day," said Wahl.

"Someone like that he's not going to give up and he's just going to keep fighting and fighting and fighting to the last possible second," said Culp.

Andy, who also teaches at Chico Junior High School, has devoted his life to helping others and now he needs our help

If you would like to donate to "The Wahl Family Support Fund," please click here.

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