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.