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Feb. 1, 2009

Coach Allen Watching Ladies Choice from a Higher Spot

Karen Roy
Ladies Choice Softball Team

Ladies Choice Women’s team lost not only our coach but also our dear friend. Melvin fought a courageous 2-year battle with pancreatic cancer before surrendering on November 8, 2008

Melvin, 65, had been involved in this sport he loved for longer than I can remember. I have known Melvin for more than 25 years and I can’t remember a time when he wasn’t coaching.

Whether he was coaching his 2 daughters Melvina and Michelle during their years playing ASA, his coed team, or his senior women’s team, you just knew that this game of softball is what he loved to do. But coaching softball also allowed Melvin and his wife of 43 years Millie to spend their time doing something they both loved to do together.

Five years ago Melvin started the Ladies Choice team. That first year we played we started with a group of friends and we were introduced to new friends. We had no idea at the beginning of that first year that by the end of that season we would truly become a family.

In the summer of 2006 after practice one Saturday Melvin quietly announced to us that he had been diagnosed with cancer. We continued the season while Melvin was undergoing chemo and he never missed a practice and he never missed a game. That year we became World Champions, not only did we become World Champions we were Triple Grand Slam Champions.

I don’t think I ever saw Melvin more proud of us than he was that day. But more importantly it was something we wanted to do it for him. You see, at that time we didn’t know if Melvin would still be with us come next spring. Spring came and Melvin was doing better and we went on to have another great season.

Then the following spring came and we knew something was wrong, Melvin began to grow tired at practice easily. It soon became too strenuous for Melvin to run practice. When he became too sick to run practices we had mentioned that maybe we would bring someone in to help us, but he wouldn’t have it.

So every Saturday Melvin would sit under the tree in his chair and give direction like only Melvin could. Never once did he ever complain that he wasn’t feeling well.

Even though Melvin was undergoing chemotherapy treatments he still traveled with us in July to the Western Nationals in Salt Lake City, Utah. And when we played in a warm up tournament in September getting ready for the Huntsman World Games he was with us also.

In October we prepared to leave for St. George to participate in the World Senior games. We knew then that Melvin was too sick to travel with us and we would be going alone. So he gave us instructions and put teammates in charge and wished us good luck.

This would be our first and only time that Melvin and Millie had not traveled with us and there was definitely a void. Millie had stayed home to care for him.

After each game we would call and give him the update and highlights. The team gathered after the tournament and asked the tournament director if we could have a ball to sign for him. When we returned home we purchased a bronze glove to hold the ball and had it engraved to our Number One Coach. By the time we returned home Melvin was in the hospital. We went to visit him and surprised him with the ball and medal.

He even apologized that he wasn’t able to go and that Millie had to stay and take care of him. That’s Melvin.

On the softball field, some may have thought he was too hard on us, and he was at times. It was only because he expected the best from us and nothing less. If we one by 10 runs, he would tell us we should have won by 15. He never wanted us to become too complacent and always wanted us to work harder to be better.

But what some people may not have known is that he was the most giving and loving person to us and his family and that Melvin’s heart was bigger than the man he was. Family was Melvin and Millie’s priority in life and I believe that is what was transcended to our team and makes it so special.

So this spring, will gather our equipment and head to the park to prepare for another season. We will greet each other, hug a little longer, and talk about our families, what’s new, and take to the field. But there will forever be a void on those Saturday morning practices, we will no longer be greeted by the coach who always greeted us with “Good Morning Sugar” or “How you doing baby”.

And when we each step in the batter’s box for the first time next season, we’ll look to the coach’s box on 3rd base and Melvin won’t be there, but I know he will be with us in spirit. When Millie leads us in prayer as she has so many times before and she asks God to watch over us and keep us safe and to be victorious, we will take comfort in knowing that there is a new angel to watch over us and his name is Coach Melvin.
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