Often we will point out athletes in the spotlight to utilize as role models. It may be another college player -- possibly an NBA player -- even a professional athlete from another sport.
But no where are there better role models for us as coaches, athletes and human beings to model after than a volunteer fireman. I actually had the privilege to coach one -- LeeAnn Parsley -- while I coached at Marshall University. I was first introduced to her dedication when our team was conditioning on the track at 6 AM. A warning siren from the local fire department went off and LeeAnn shot off the track and to the department. Judy Southard, the head coach at Marshall, told me that she and LeeAnn had came to an agreement because it meant so much to her.
With the tragedy last night at West, Texas, as well as the one in Boston, I am again reminded that no where are there better role models than a volunteer fireman and first responders. The put their lives on the line to save ours!
Here are some excerpts of an article that was posted on CNN.com, written by Holly Yan. I deplore you to please click here and read the entire article.
The blast was so catastrophic, it destroyed Marty Marak's home, killed his dog and leveled houses for blocks around.
But he had no time for panic or grief. Marak darted right toward the danger, even as the threat of a second explosion loomed.
Like the rest of the firefighters in the town of West, Texas, population 2,800, Marak is a volunteer firefighter.
He doesn't get paid to battle flames or save lives; he actually runs a heating and air conditioning company.
But he risks his life just to help his tight-knit central Texas city.
On Wednesday night, the valor of the volunteers was put to the ultimate test.
Firefighters were already battling an enormous blaze at West Fertilizer Co. when an earth-shaking explosion blasted windows and walls off homes. Rolling fireballs leaped into the sky, and residents 50 miles away felt the force of the blast.
West Mayor Tommy Muska, also a volunteer firefighter, said "it was a like a nuclear bomb went off."
The explosion devastated Marak's family.
"It demolished both the houses there, mine and my mom's, and it killed my dog," Marak's wife, Cheryl, told CNN's Piers Morgan.
But Marty Marak took off, trying to extinguish the blaze before it could trigger a second explosion at a nearby fertilizer tank at any moment.
A flood of other volunteers also scrambled to the scene, including firefighters and emergency medical personnel from hundreds of miles away, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.
With her house annihilated, Cheryl Marak took cover in her brother's home, about two miles away from town. For hours, she wondered if her husband was still OK.
"For all those people who are still there ... responders that remain ... you just worry about everybody," she said, her voice cracking.
Finally, shortly before midnight, Cheryl Marak was able to speak with her husband and hear he was OK.
"I'm begging him to come home, to let me come and get him ... but he said he can't. He's going to stay with his guys," Cheryl said.
So the excruciating wait continued.
Rep. Bill Flores, whose district represents the town of West, said the courage of Marak in the face of loss isn't uncommon.
"That's just the way that we Texans are wired," he said. "Even though we face our own personal tragedies from time to time, we still know that we have to go help others -- and then assess our own tragedies later on."