The student news site of Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin.

The Highlander Online

The student news site of Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin.

The Highlander Online

The student news site of Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin.

The Highlander Online

Volleyball coach reflects on difficult medical past

Alla Palouiko
Coach Tom Scherrer talks to Josh Moore, senior, and Will Kons, senior during a timeout.

Through the first 23 years of his life, he never had any serious medical complications. There were never any issues with his small, yet athletic body. Friends and family described him as always being energetic and lively. Yet, one day in 2010, that lively and energetic spark seemed to fade away with the sound of a few words: Stage Four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Tom Scherrer, varsity boys volleyball coach, thought his life was over.

“I was crushed. I thought my life was over,” Scherrer stated as he reflected on that sad day. “Stage four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is known as one of the most treatable forms of cancer, but I had an aggressive case. Unfortunately, it is not a cancer you cause, but instead one that seems to attack at random.”

According to Yale Medicine, about 8500 to 9000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma each year. The treatment process varies for each case, but for Scherrer, it was a grueling physical and mental process.

“I had multiple chemotherapy sessions, radiation treatments, and two separate stem cell transplants. As a former athlete who prefers to stay active, that was pretty much put on hold. Mentally, it is difficult because it is so out of your control, but at the same time, you never know how mentally strong you can be until strong is the only choice you have,” Scherrer stated.

Scherrer admitted that he had many struggles with his mindset during his bout with cancer. Having a disease that usually is seen in people several years older than him at the time of his diagnosis, Scherrer had to fight the mental obstacles that come with fighting off sickness. “Admittedly, my attitude could have been more positive, but it was a lot to take in at a young age, and I learned a lot from it,” Scherrer said.

That newfound knowledge has led Scherrer to a different perspective on life that he didn’t think he would be capable of having. Scherrer explained that he can find empathy for others because he knows what it is like to be in pain and suffering. “I was always an empathetic person, but that part of me has skyrocketed a bit since my cancer experience. I try to treat everyone with thoughtful respect, as you really do not know what type of weight people might be carrying around,” Scherrer expressed.

This level of respect and empathy that Scherrer has learned to obtain now helps him leave an impact on the players that he coaches such as Kylan Fantin, junior. Forced to step into a new role this past season, Fantin expressed gratitude for Scherrer’s ability to make an impact on players not only as athletes but as people.

“Coach Tom has had a crucial impact on me not just as a volleyball player, but also in life. He wants to get to know everyone on a personal level and not just as a player. Coach Tom has been one of the most influential people in my life and made the most impact on me not just as a player but also as a person,” expressed Fantin.

Along with Fantin, Alex Mikhailenko, sophomore and one of three team captains, appreciates Scherrer’s ability to connect with players and push them to reach their full potential, both personally and athletically. “Coach Tom has always emphasized to me the importance of stepping into a leadership role and understanding the influence that I have on others around me. I wouldn’t be the player I am today without him,” Mikhailenko remarked.

While Scherrer doesn’t often use his story as a means of motivation or inspiration for his team, but he does hope that everyone can learn the lesson that he learned through his journey. Scherrer advises, “if there is any message to come from my battle, it is to show up for your teammates, for your parents, for your coaches, for your school and for yourself. No one is promised anything, so put your best foot forward, and never take the gift of life for granted.”

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About the Contributor
Will Kons
Will Kons, Staffer
Will Kons is a senior at Homestead High School. Will plays for Homestead’s volleyball and baseball teams. When not participating in Homestead athletics, Will is a part of the Homestead band, as well as Spanish Club. When not at Homestead, Will enjoys spending his time with family and friends, and being outdoors for activities like fishing and hunting. Will is excited for the opportunity to be apart of Homestead Publications.

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