Thursday, October 16, 2014

Remembering a truly dark day

Coach Vos and Coach Friedrichs shown during the Section 5A individual wrestling tournament at the Minnewaska Area high school in February 2011.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012.

It was a day we will never forget in Jaguar Country. A dark, deeply difficult day for students, parents, teachers, school staff, administration and community members at B-B-E.

That day we lost Coach Rich Vos. He was everything you could have wanted in a teacher and coach: loyal, supportive, positive, helpful and generous. He both looked for and expected the best in his students and athletes. He didn't accept excuses. He was a no-nonsense type of person who knew how to connect with students just when they needed it the most. The school will never be the same. He was such a terrific role model and someone countless students looked up to.

Take a moment and say a prayer for Beth and their two children.

Here's some of what I wrote during that week, printed in the Oct. 18 issue of the Sauk Centre Herald.

In the blink of an eye on Tuesday morning, unimaginable tragedy struck Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa.
In a bicycle/semi accident that took the life of Rich Vos, the B-B-E community lost a father, husband, coach, teacher, friend, neighbor and role model.
Coach Vos was more than just the head wrestling coach for the past 11 seasons. He was a church member, community volunteer, a family man and most of all, a well-respected math teacher.
As B-B-E Athletic Director and Principal Rick Gossen stated very eloquently in the West Central Tribune, the impact Vos had on the school and community reached far beyond his work with the Jaguar wrestling program.
"Rich was one of those guys, from an educational standpoint, had a lot going for him,” Gossen said in the Tribune. "As a math teacher, his students enjoyed him very much and as a coach there were a lot of kids in the school who were committed to him and the program. Guys who can do it in the classroom and on the court, in the wrestling room or on the field are hard to come by. He will be missed."
Here are a couple noteworthy figures: in only seven hours after it was created, a Facebook tribute page titled "R.I.P. Mr. Vos" accumulated 2,684 "likes" from visitors to the website. At the B-B-E Jaguar Sports blog that I created six years ago, a total of 3,777 visitors clicked by on Tuesday.
The previous one-day record at my blog was 859 visitors set on the opening day of the 2012 state boys' basketball tournament.
As I read through tributes given by B-B-E students about Vos, what really stands out are the comments given about how he got the most out of those in his math classes. The impact he had on those students will yield rewards for the rest of their lives.
From my perspective, Vos was an incredibly good-natured, friendly and hard-working teacher and coach at B-B-E, where he has worked since 1998. Vos was very passionate about the B-B-E wrestling program. He worked tirelessly to build up the youth wrestling program and get parents involved as volunteers in the system. He was also instrumental in leading the school to converting unused classroom space into a badly-needed wrestling practice facility.
B-B-E is a very closely-knit school district and community. We take immense pride in how hard we work, how hard we play and how much we help one another when times are tough.
The downside to living and working in a small community is that when tragedy strikes, it hurts a thousand times worse because everyone is considered like family.
In this difficult time, what is the best way to respond?
In the words of B-B-E English teacher Carol Sanders via Facebook, here's a few things we can do.
"Honor him...Learn your math. Take good care of your body. Love your children. Smile."

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