Mike Mauk has won a lot of battles as a longtime head football coach on the gridiron.
In 31 years coaching at Kenton, Mauk’s Wildcat teams won an amazing 220 games and two state championships.
But the former Kenton head coach and athletic director is facing a much different battle these days.
The battle versus cancer.
Mauk underwent a colonoscopy less than a month ago, and doctors told him he had “stage three” colorectal cancer.
It was interesting how the news of Mauk’s diagnosis became public.
One of Mauk’s sons, University of Missouri star quarterback Maty Mauk, had posted a picture of himself with his dad in a Father’s Day Instagram post.
I saw that post at the time, but I didn’t see the message that accompanied the post.
“Whoever may read this, my family asks and thanks you for prayers for my dad. He has a fight ahead of him to get through cancer, but winning is the one thing he does best and he WILL beat this,” Maty wrote.
When the news of Mike Mauk’s cancer diagnosis spread, I immediately called him to reach out to him.
Mike and I go back more than 30 years.
He, as a young football coach at Kenton and me, as a young reporter at WLIO-TV.
I have interviewed him before games, after games, after wins, after losses.
When I switched to radio full-time, I would have him on twice a week on Sportstalk with Koza during the high school football season.
He has always been accommodating, and even answered the tough questions when they had to be asked.
But asking someone to come on the show and talk about recently finding out that you have “stage three” cancer, and are in the biggest battle of your life, wasn’t the easiest thing for me to do.
And as has always been the case, Mauk texted back that he would love to come on the show, and, “if I can help someone get a colonoscopy ahead of time — help people be aware of the fact that cancer can hit anyone — at any time.”
Mauk told me Monday night that “except for a little bowel movement issues,” he had been feeling great recently.”
Felt as good as he had ever felt.
But his wife urged him to get the colonoscopy, and Mauk finally relented.
The results from the colonoscopy were not good.
But as Mike Mauk has always been, he is taking a positive approach to winning his latest battle.
He has already started both radiation and chemotherapy, and will have to endure that five days a week — for the next eight weeks.
Then after an evaluation, and some time for his body to heal from that, he is expected to undergo surgery to try and remove the cancer.
And wouldn’t you know it, Mauk has asked for the surgery to be done on a Monday, so there is a remote possibility that he could still possibly coach his current Glendale (Missouri) High School team, the following Friday.
“I have told the doctors how important football is to me, although my life is pretty important to me, too.”
And important to his family as well.
One of Mike’s other sons — Ben — went with his father on the first day of radiation.
An assistant coach with his Dad at Glendale in Springfield, Ben has been helping with his father, and helping with the coaching duties of the football program, too.
It is a tough time for the Mauk family.
But Mike Mauk is determined to win his latest battle off the gridiron.
I hate cancer.
I have lost a lot of family and friends to this terrible, terrible disease.
If anyone can win the battle, it is Mike Mauk.
Prayers to him and his family.
You can comment to Vince Koza at firstname.lastname@example.org.