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Cheney says goodbye to a friend

They gathered in Cheney on Saturday morning to celebrate Tom Oswald’s life. Hundreds came, nearly filling the floor and bleachers of Cheney High’s gym. They cried, they laughed. They were a living memorial to a man whose life touched theirs.

They entered to the strains of Josh Grobain’s “You Raise Me Up,” the chorus of which, appropriately, says:

“You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains; You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas; I am strong, when I am on your shoulders; You raise me up … to more than I can be.”

They left to the upbeat words of John Fogarty’s “Centerfield,” which, also appropriately, says:

“Put me in coach, I’m ready to play, today.”

Tom Oswald did both those things. He gave kids a chance to play and he raised them up to be more than they could be. What better words can be written about a high school coach?

Sure, Tom was a loving husband and father. He was a respected math teacher. He was a leader of his church, the sprinkler-system installer for half of Cheney and a good friend to many.

But the Tom I knew was a high school football coach, and among the best I had the opportunity to meet. When he retired a few years ago, the high school football community lost an irreplaceable asset. When he lost his battle to cancer last week, our area lost an irreplaceable person.

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Jim Allen (@srjimallen) Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jim Meehan (@srjimm) Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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