Monday, October 16, 2017

Five years have passed

"We have suffered an unimaginable loss."

I dread news like this in every way imaginable.

Five years ago, almost to the hour (it was shortly before 9 a.m. that day), I was dumbfounded by the terrible news of Coach Rich Vos's bicycle-semi accident that took his life early that morning - Tuesday, October 16, 2012. I was sitting in the basement of the Sauk Centre Herald newspaper building preparing my stories for that week's issue. The newspaper would print in less than 24 hours. Suddenly, my editor, Bryan Zollman, appeared in my office at 8:46 a.m. He had a stunned look on his face. He was straight with me.

"Did you hear about an accident by Belgrade this morning?"

I said No, and he replied, "I just learned that Rich Vos was killed in a bicycle accident."

My heart and anything else inside me sank to the floor. My face went white, and I sat in stunned silence. It was the first death of a coach or student-athlete at B-B-E since March 2006, when one of our girls' golfers, Trista Monson, passed away after a courageous three-plus year battle with cancer.

Zollman paused, and then said he would step in and start gathering material for a story for the newspaper. He was friends with one of Coach Vos's assistant coaches, BJ Friedrichs, who I am guessing was Zollman's source for the news.

Click below to read my very first blog posting about the accident and its aftermath:

The fear of these tragedies keeps me up at night on many occasions throughout each school year. We are still sitting in the wake of losing 16-year old Austin Young last March. That haunts me to this day. After the Thursday night volleyball match of Homecoming this fall, I could not sleep. I think I slept about three hours that night. I kept thinking, "Will everyone get home tonight? Will everyone wake up where they should be in the morning? How will Friday go? Will we all get through Friday night?"

Coach Vos (left) and assistant coach Danny Borgerding at the Xcel Energy Center on March 2, 2012. They were matside watching Ross Rath compete in the Class 1A individual state tournament.

Jaguar Country has not been the same ever since that dark day in 2012. In the blink of an eye, our school was forever changed with the loss of a truly remarkable, caring, generous and loving gentle spirit that most students knew as "Mr. Vos". He was a warrior for our school and its students. Hundreds of B-B-E students over the years counted on him for advice, encouragement and support through what is never easy: high school. We were robbed by the accident. All schools need staff members like Coach Vos. Students depend on having such caring individuals in the classrooms and hallways. Of course, it was especially difficult for his widow, Beth Vos, herself a former student-athlete at B-B-E and the mother to their two young children.

I've spoken with Beth a few times this fall. We corresponded today, and I am happy to report her message, "Thank you! It's been a good day!" She now lives in the Metro Area, where she is continuing her career in education.

May her life and the lives of her children continue to be restored by God's loving grace.

Coach Vos always had is athlete's backs...he was always in their corner, 365 day a year!

The following night of the accident, our B-B-E Jaguars football team faced Eden Valley-Watkins on the home gridiron for their Week Eight match up to cap the regular season. After the game, which they won 26-6 to even up their record at 4-4, the players kneeled in a large circle just north of the east goal post, joined hands, and prayed the Lord's Prayer. (Video)

I was a puddle. I didn't even have the strength to recite the Lord's Prayer with them. I tried my best holding the videocamera steady without breaking down. A light mist came down over the entire second half. It was also very windy out of the north, pretty cold from what I remember...the wind noise blocks out most of the players' voices. Somehow on that night, our B-B-E Jaguars volleyball team and our football guys mustered the strength to compete in their respective sports to fulfill the regular season schedules. Earlier that night, the volleyball team swept visiting Eden Valley-Watkins.

Coach Vos was a player's coach. He fought in countless ways for his guys, during the season and out of the season. His efforts were instrumental in getting the wrestling room built in the south wing of the high school. He coached dozens of players to the state tournament during his head coaching years at B-B-E from 2001 through the 2011-12 season. The 2012-13 team was expected to deliver great things in the playoffs, and in some of his private conversations with others, he believed they would be the team to get B-B-E to the team state tournament.

Below, video from the 2012 state individual wrestling tournament:

Above, then-junior Patrick Rooney is shown in a successful wrestleback match. The win was called at the 2:46 mark on the video. After that, you can see coaches Vos and Friedrichs soak up the win.

I'm combing through more photos and video from that week in October 2012. This week's Bonanza Valley Voice will also include additional coverage of the five-year anniversary of losing Coach Vos.


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