Well, where do I begin…… This past fall season was an up and down roller coaster as I watched coaches, teams and athletic directors navigate the waters of COVID-19 protocol. I have to say that it was tough and fun at the same time as there were nights where I was able to see each player take the field for their team and then there were nights when players were missing due to quarantine or COVID protocols.
I just want to say it was great to see sports back in the area, I surely missed watching kids compete and do what they work so hard to be a part of. I will say that I am extremely impressed with each district and I thank you for all you did this past season for area athletes and fans. The stands weren’t always very full, but the passion, the effort and the love of sports showed big each and every time I covered an area event for our four local schools. The challenge now is how do we navigate the winter sport’s season. I can’t imagine what will be upon us with the frequent changes that COVID presents on a daily basis. My hope is for us all to be able to compete as safely as possible as that is the main goal. I know there are many opinions when it comes to COVID, but the number one goal is to be safe. I have to wait now as the next couple weeks will be slow, but after Thanksgiving break my hopes are that numbers start dropping and I continue to see the smiles on the faces of athletes and fans as they get to represent and compete for their school districts.
The stands will be one major fan short as the passing of a great human being, former area stand out athlete and in my opinion super fan, Kurt Koehler passed away last weekend. I can only say that when I heard the news, I was heart broken. No matter where I went for youth, middle school, high school or even the golf course. I would see Kurt in his normal spot, especially in the stands, usually in the visiting section where I took photos with that big smile that accompanied a “hey Todd.”
Kurt loved sports and it showed as his presence at home sporting events were near perfect. He always was wondering what time the game was if one of his family members were in competition.
Kurt, if one was asked, loved sports! From his time as a stand out athlete at Weyerhaueser, where he pitched a men’s league game at 16 years old to his time on the golf course with his dear friends at Tee Away or a professional course somewhere in the United States. Kurt just had a expertise when it can to sports and people went to him when they had questions or needed some advice. A close friend and opponent, Mark Horbinski of WON80 stated the following when talking about Kurt, “back in the early 1980’s, I competed against a gifted athlete from Weyerhaeuser High School. I was in awe of not only how talented he was, but also with how kind he was and how he made all of his teammates better by the way he treated them. 35 years later and I remember it still. That is making a lasting, positive impression.” Horbinski went on to state after hearing about Kurt’s passing, “My heart is broken to learn of the passing of my friend Kurt. His positive attitude, kind disposition, and infectious smile made him such a pleasure to compete against. Kurt truly epitomized all that is good in people. I will miss him dearly. Healing prayers for Kurt’s family and friends on the loss of this beautiful man.”
This has been a common statement when you talk to anyone about who Kurt the man was. The word that keeps coming up is kindness.
So that got me thinking that in a time when we are dealing with lines of division politically, medically, socially and the list goes on. Maybe that is Kurt’s final piece of advice to us. Be Kind. Spread kindness in all we do, like Kurt did. I may not have known Kurt in a way that many of you reading this may have, but I can tell he made a lasting impression on me.
It seems everyone has a Kurt story of some kind that ends with a smile or comment of what type of man he was. I am asking that we look at the life of this man and take a note from his legacy. Kindness takes no effort. So in that I say “Double K all the Way,” Koehler Kindness!
That is how we can live and leave a lasting legacy and impression on not just our community, but the world. I hope that if you get a chance down the road to attend his celebration of life, you do it the way Kurt would and show up and fill the stands. My thoughts go out to his family and friends. Our community lost a great husband, father, grandfather, uncle, friend, athlete, team mate, umpire/refereeing crew, fan and mentor. But most importantly we lost a man that did it the right way. The Koehler Way!
I usually end my column with my favorite quote of Find A Way, but today I end it with the only one I can think of, and that is….. DOUBLE K, ALL THE WAY!