“I’d rather be a big fish in a small pond,” he told his brother Mike. “I can do more here. I can make a bigger impact on people’s lives.”
Lang collapsed at the gym coaching the team on December 10th. He was rushed to a hospital, but died of heart failure. The school held a memorial, the basketball court was named for him, and pages were written in tribute to the coach, but the team says very little about him. Instead, they are following Lang's instructions.
In the six weeks since Lang died La Roche can’t lose, winning all nine of its games, two in overtime. The most recent victory came last Saturday when it beat Hilbert on the afternoon the school held a ceremony to name the court for him. The Redhawks are 16-1 and in first place in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference. This week they received votes in the Division III top 25 poll for the first time ever. It is easily the best season in the program’s history.
Suddenly there is talk about the NCAA’s Division III tournament, about going all the places that Lang spent all those nights and all those hours dreaming of someday being able to take La Roche. Anything seems possible. And it is all very much still him.
The players say they are sure Lang is watching. He wouldn’t miss a year like this. The four men who have taken over the coaching all have other obligations; they have families and full-time jobs. They can’t dedicate half a day let alone an entire life to La Roche. They say the players are winning themselves, that the lessons from Lang were so deep that the team has simply absorbed them.
La Roche won another game since the quoted article was written. Have your hanky ready to read the entire story. Link -via Metafilter