Mike Chapman loves his job. The longtime University High School soccer coach has a passion for education, both from an academic and athletic standpoint, and it shows in his perpetually positive attitude.

But during the past month, Chapman has gained an even deeper appreciation for his chosen profession.

Chapman spent nine days in the hospital earlier this month, after a bout with strep throat attacked his right lung.

He lost 30 pounds and missed several of University’s games, but he will be on the sideline when the Trojans take on A&M Consolidated in a Class 5A boys bi-district playoff game at 7 p.m. Thursday at Waco ISD Stadium.

“For my part, it’s just so good to be back,” Chapman said. “To be able to go to practice, go to the games, it’s just huge. This was the first year in 24 years I’ve missed a soccer game and, obviously, I had to miss several this year. But it’s such a blessing to be back.”

Chapman dealt with flu-like symptoms and a lingering cough for a couple of months, but avoided going to the doctor, figuring he’d get over it. But then his appetite started to fade and his weight dropped from 206 pounds to 176 pounds. At that point, he knew he needed to get to the hospital.

“The doctors said that I dodged a bullet,” Chapman said. “They said that there was no way I should have walked into the hospital, that I should have come in on a stretcher.”

Initially, Chapman’s primary doctor feared that the coach may have cancer. So he ordered a CAT scan of Chapman’s lungs.

Waiting for the results of that procedure was “the longest 10 minutes of my life,” Chapman said.

Fortunately for Chapman, the physician diagnosed that he did not have cancer, but rather that his right lung was under attack from his bout with strep throat.

During the course of his nine-day hospital stay, Chapman had 80 ounces of fluid removed from the lung. But he also was visited by the Temple and Waco High boys soccer teams. In fact, Waco High wore purple armbands in a game against the Trojans in support of Chapman. Assistant coaches, meanwhile, regularly sent him text messages with scoring updates during games.

“My assistant coaches were so great,” said Chapman, a six-time Super Centex coach of the year. “Of course, Coach (Ricky) Perez has been with me for years and years and Coach Cain Quiroz does a great job, too. They were able to step in and not miss a beat. Of course they really do everything anyway.”

Chapman checked out of the hospital March 9, and rejoined his team the following week. With his appetite back, he has put on about half the weight that he lost.

His team, despite its past tradition of deep postseason runs, likely will face an uphill climb against A&M Consolidated. The Tigers are the top seed and District 17-5A champion, while the Trojans (12-8-4) finished fourth in 18-5A. University is fielding a young team with only two seniors in the starting lineup and there have been some growing pains along the way.

So Chapman’s message to the Trojans has been a simple one: Just outwork the other team.

“It takes time for sure,” he said. “But we have a saying, a team with lesser talent can beat a team with more talent as long as they have more effort. They have way more talent than we do. They have the horses. We’ve just got to give maximum effort in order to overcome that.”

Familiar face

Moody has a new head football coach and athletic director and it’s a familiar face.

Shawn Peach has been promoted to those positions for the Bearcats, after a two-year stint as the football program’s offensive coordinator. Peach replaces Kevin Chase, who resigned following the 2015 season after two years and an 11-11 record.

All-state teams

Eight Central Texas basketball players have been honored on the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches’ all-state teams.

On the boys’ side, Coolidge’s Ro’derick Calhoun and Wanya Jones both made all-state in Class 1A. Calhoun averaged 18 points, six assists and five steals for the state semifinalist Yellowjackets. Jones contributed 16 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals per night.

Among local girls’ players, Midway’s Marie Benson netted TABC all-state honors in Class 6A. Benson led the Pantherettes with 14.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.

In Class 4A, a trio of Central Texas standouts won all-state recognition: La Vega’s Calveion Landrum (22.8 ppg), Mexia’s Na’Teshia Owens (19.1 ppg) and Connally’s Tontyana Sanders (23.4 ppg, 21.4 rpg). Rosebud-Lott’s Keauna Whitfield (18 points per game) and Hubbard’s Tyeshunna Hawthorne (16.6 points) made the TABC all-state squad in Class 2A.

Nominations sought

Central Texas soccer coaches whose seasons are complete are encouraged to submit nominations for the annual Super Centex boys’ and girls’ teams.

Nominations should include a player’s position, height, classification, statistics and any honors or awards he or she has won. The Trib will also pick a Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and Newcomer of the Year.

Nominations can be sent to Tribune-Herald sports editor Brice Cherry at bcherry@wacotrib.com.

The Super Centex basketball teams will be published in the Tribune-Herald this weekend, with girls on Saturday and boys on Sunday.

Don't Miss...